THE signal shutdown that will be implemented during this year’s Sinulog festivities will affect the entire island of Cebu and parts of Bohol.
National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) 7 Director Jesus Laureno said he already approved the plan to shut down cellular phone signals during the solemn procession and the Sinulog Grand Parade on Jan. 19 and 20, respectively.
However, Laureno clarified that they needed to secure the approval of their central office in Manila before they could proceed with the shutdown.
He urged the public to look for other ways to communicate during this time.
Senior Supt. Royima Garma, Cebu City Police Office director, said the signal would be immediately restored after the festivities to prevent any disruption of business operations in the region.
“When you shut down (the signal of cellular phones) dito sa (here in) Cebu, affected din naman ang Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Bohol satellites (these other places will also be affected). So, ito yung mga bagay na-consider natin (these are the things we should consider). It’s going to be the whole island of Cebu, including some parts of Bohol maapektohan sa (will be affected by the) shutdown,” Garma said.
The police official said some members of the public would surely complain, but she sought their understanding.
She said closed-circuit television cameras would be deployed along the procession and grand parade routes from the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño to ensure the safety and security of those attending the religious and cultural activities.
Garma advised the public not to carry backpacks on both occasions.
To prevent untoward incidents, drones would not be allowed to fly above the routes. No one would be exempted, not even the police, she said.
Telecommunications firms Smart and Globe said they were only waiting for the NTC’s word to shut down the signals.
Patrick Gloria, Globe Telecom’s external affairs head for Visayas and Mindanao, said it has become standard practice to shut down signals during festivals nationwide.
Last year, the public could also not use their cellular phones during the solemn procession and the grand parade.
Terrorists in other countries had used cellular phones to detonate bombs in thickly populated areas or during mass gatherings.
Meanwhile, the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) has already come up with a contingency plan to address the loss of signal.
It said it would tap a telecommunications firm to allow its members to use the firm’s line during the grand parade.
Councilor Dave Tumulak, who also chairs the executive committee of SFI, said they would be using hand-held radios to communicate with each other, adding that they could purchase 100 more hand-held radios that would become part of the foundation’s assets.
“We will just make a communication flow of what are those alternative ways of communicating with our staff, especially those who are on the ground because that is very vital. But we have no choice but to follow recommendations of the PNP (Philippine National Police),” Tumulak said.
He said communication is important, particularly in coordinating the flow of dancing contingents, floats, higante and puppeteers. (From AYB of SuperBalita Cebu, JKV & KOC, EOB, RVC)