REPORT to authorities any unusual devices seen in your areas, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña urged the public as religious activities of this year’s Sinulog celebration officially start Thursday, January 5.
While this developed, organizers of the festivity want to prohibit the use of drones inside the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) and the entire parade route during the Sinulog grand parade next Sunday, Jan. 15.
Councilor Dave Tumulak said this year’s security preparation for Sinulog is tripled compared to the previous years due to threats in terrorism and the possible retaliation of those affected by the war on drugs of the present administration, among others.
However, despite the assurance of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that they are fully ready for the week-long festivity, Osmeña said there will never be enough preparations for it, that’s why the public should be vigilant.
Osmeña said that if someone wants to leave a bomb to ruin the celebration, they usually do it through the use of some unnoticeable packs, that is why it is important that people will report immediately to the police any suspicious item found in their areas.
“They leave bombs behind in disguise as a chair, in disguise as a garbage bag. How do you prevent these from happening? You can only do so much so we have to tell the people, be careful,” he said.
Earlier, Osmeña said he considers the bombing in Hilongos, Leyte last week as a “very big threat” to the Sinulog celebration.
Osmeña attended the meeting yesterday along with the officials of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI), police, military and other concerned agencies and offices to discuss the security and other concerns for the activity.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director, Chief Supt. Noli Taliño said that although they’ve already prepared their security plan for Sinulog, they upgrade it everyday.
Taliño said bomb squads from AFP and the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) of the PNP are already in several key sites in the city, including inside the Basilica del Sto. Niño.
Aside from that, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Joel Doria said there are also several teams on foot patrol.
As part of the security measures, a proposal to install signal jamming devices in some points along the parade route was made, Doria said.
If approved, access to mobile communications will not be available in some areas in the city. Doria said this is done since most of the bombs are being detonated through cellular phones.
As to the use of drones, SFI executive director Ricky Ballesteros said they requested the PNP and AFP to ban the use of drone inside the CCSC and the entire four-kilometer parade route.
“Some drones are used for bombs, so for security reason, we’ve asked that it will not be allowed inside the sports center and the parade route,” he said.
Ballesteros said that last year, they also implemented the same policy, although a drone owned by the vice mayor of Tangub City managed to take off inside the CCSC.
Tumulak, who has been assigned by Osmeña to oversee the Sinulog Festival, reiterated the request of the organizers for parade spectators to refrain from bringing backpacks.
The Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) will deploy 250 policemen to support the Cebu City Police Office.
These officers will come from the CPPO headquarters, mobile groups and police stations from the towns.
Police Crime Investigator Gerard Ace Pelave, of the CPPO Operational Procedures, said the command centers will be along the main road.
Pelave advised the public that should they leave their houses, they must ensure they are secure and let their children bring identification cards.
Pelave said the town policemen will also conduct checkpoints as the police are the first line of defense. Jenevie Cabajar, USJ-R intern