MANILA – The minor suspect behind the bomb threat at a school in Taguig City is now under the custody of the city's Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) office, Mayor Lani Cayetano said on Monday.
In a press conference, Cayetano lauded the city police officials led by Col. Robert Baesa and the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) for the identification of the uploader/sender of the threatening messages.
“Normally pagka kumakalat ang impormasyon minsan ang bata malalagay rin sa alanganin. So ang role ngayon ng CSWD is to safeguard the minor, importante na maalagaan natin yung kaligtasan niya at siguro makalma din siya para hindi na siya makagawa ng posibleng harm sa ibang tao o mismong sarili niya. Yung ganitong klaseng takbo ng pag-iisip ng bata sa akin ang pananaw ko dahil marami na rin tayong na-encounter na cases na ganito, may pinagdadaanan yung bata (Normally when the information spreads, sometimes the child will also be in trouble. So the CSWD's role now is to safeguard the minor, it is important that we take care of his safety and maybe also calm him down and make sure he won’t harm other people or himself. This kind of thinking from a child, in my point of view, is going through something like the other cases like I’ve encountered before),” said Cayetano.
The mayor, meanwhile, appealed to the public to spare the minor from further trouble and shame.
“Ngayong inihahanda na ang mga kasong isasampa, hayaan nating gumulong ang legal na proseso at batas na ang magpaparusa sa mga salarin. Huwag nating palalain ang sitwasyon sa pamamagitan ng mga aksyon na makakasakit o makakapinsala sa mga suspek lalo na kay Sofia na isang menor de edad (Now that the cases are being prepared to be filed, let's let the legal process roll and the law will punish the perpetrators. Let's not aggravate the situation by actions that will hurt or harm the suspects, especially Smith who is a minor),” Cayetano said.
A certain Sofia Smith posted comments on a Facebook live video of an event of the Taguig City government, saying she will kill all students of the Signal Village National High School.
A screenshot of these comments was posted by a netizen which went viral on social media.
Classes were suspended due to threats and authorities immediately deployed a Special Weapons and Tactics team.
Policemen and a bomb squad were also deployed to secure the school premises and check the buildings and the vicinity for any explosive devices.
No bomb or explosive device was found during the operation, the city government said.
For his part, Lt. Col. Jay Guillermo of the PNP-ACG said they found the prepaid number used by the suspect and verified that it is still active.
Guillermo said they checked the IP address, and grid coordinates to determine the exact location of the suspect in a residential area in Barangay Central Signal.
Through cooperation with the Taguig police and the city government, he said they have identified the owner of the number and the real name of "Sofia Smith".
He said "Sofia Smith" is a 16-year-old female Grade 9 student at Signal Village National High School.
“Dumulog kami sa Regional Trial Court para makakuha ng Cybercrime Warrant para sa karapatan na makapasok at makumpiska ang ang cellphone ni "Sofia Smith" at ng mga kasama nya sa bahay. Nakita din natin ang numero na ginamit para sa pag bukas ng FB account ni Sofia Smith at dito napatunayan na isa mga na may ari ng cellphone ay siya ang may kakayanang magpadala ng mensahe mula sa FB live ng I Love Taguig (We went to the Regional Trial Court to get a Cybercrime Warrant for the right to examine and confiscate the cellphone of "Sofia Smith" and her companions at home. We also saw the number that was used to open Sofia Smith's FB account and here it is proven that one of the owners of the cellphone is the one who can send a message from FB live of I Love Taguig),” Guillermo said.
He said forensic examination of the recovered mobile phones is ongoing and was also found that Facebook accounts of different people logged in and logged out at the same IP address.
Asked what is the motive of the suspect to post the threat on social media, Baesa said they found out that the suspect doesn't want to have their grades put on the billboard which would show who got high and low grades.
Baesa, however, said they cannot directly ask the minor about the incident.
"Kaya tinawagan namin yung CSWD para kausapin at kusang magbigay ng information ('yung bata) (We called the CSWD to talk to them and voluntarily provide information based on the minor's answers).”
Baesa also said the suspect was not alone when she made the threat.
“Lumalabas na mayroong galit sa school at sa isang teacher ang mga nagbanta kaya ginawa nila ang posts ng pananakot. Gayundin, ang isa sa kanila ay dating street sweeper ng lungsod na tinanggal nang may kadahilanan. Maaring ito ang kanyang motibo sa pagbabanta na maghasik ng kaguluhan sa siyudad (It turns out that those who threatened were angry at the school and one of its teachers, so they made the threatening posts. Also, one of them is a former streetsweeper of the city who was fired. This may be his motive in threatening to sow trouble in the city),” Baesa added. (PNA)