MANILA — Unverified reports about an Egyptian couple now roaming Sulu and planning to conduct bomb attacks upon instructions of Islamic State terrorists are doing the public more harm than good, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday.
Aside from causing undue alarm, the DND chief said the frequent release of such unverified reports have the tendency to make people skeptical and could make them ignore legitimate information on such matter.
"It is unverified news like this that unduly alarm the public. The down side is that if this happens often enough na hindi naman totoo (that it is not true), time will come when the people become inured to the news and will not believe even if it is true. It's like the story of the boy who cried wolf," Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.
Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it has yet to receive information regarding the Egyptian terror couple.
"We have no information on the alleged Egyptian couple in cahoots with local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group in IED (improvised explosive device) explosions in Sulu (as what was reportedly revealed by an academic analyst on terrorism)," AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo announced.
Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism head Rommel Banlaoi claimed that the two are already in the country and these individuals are linked to the Indonesians responsible for the bomb attack at the Jolo Cathedral bombing last January.
He added the couple is in the Philippines to conduct "intermittent bombing operations".
"We are in the process of pursuing leads to the perpetrators of the IED explosions in Sulu and Basilan. But we have no report so far pointing to the participation of such Egyptian couple," Arevalo stressed.
The AFP spokesperson said the military will continue to collaborate with other agencies of government, the local government, and local residents — to include private individuals—to punctuate the need for united efforts to prevent radicalism and counter violent extremism. (PNA)