MALACANANG on Monday defended the temporary disruption of cellphone signals in Quiapo, saying it was part of additional security measures following reports of terror threats.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said reports of possible terror attack were “credible enough” that prompted President Benigno Aquino III himself to make the announcement and warn the devotees of the Black Nazarene last Sunday.
“We feel that it (disruption of mobile signal) is warranted as an additional security measure and is necessary for us to ensure that nothing untoward will happen during the period of the procession and the celebration,” Valte told reporters in a press briefing.
President Aquino on Sunday revealed that "local" terrorist groups are planning to disrupt the celebration of the Black Nazarene feast where millions of people are expected to join.
Valte said that the interruption of mobile services will be along the routes to be taken by the procession which started from the Quirino Granstand and will end at the Quiapo Church, Manila.
It will also last for the “entire duration” of the procession, she added. Authorities earlier said that the procession is expected to last for about 16 hours.
Several groups criticized the government’s move, saying that security measures will also be compromised because even police personnel were experiencing communication problems. The public will be unable to report any possible untoward incidents as well.
But Valte said it was part of the security measures agreed upon by the President and the authorities during their meeting last Sunday since cellphones have been used to detonate bombs.
She added that not bringing cellphones and other valuables could prevent petty theft.
Should an untoward incident happens, Valte said the public could still use landlines to be able to report it.
Malacanang denied that warning about terror threat mean to scare the public.
The assessment of the terror threat is expected to extend even after the Black Nazarene feast and until the authorities locate the lawless elements.
Security officials confirmed spotting six to nine suspected terrorists in Metro Manila. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)