‘BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY’: City police requests signal jamming for Dinagyang ‘23

The Iloilo City Police Office has requested signal jamming to ensure the safety of the public during the Dinagyang Festival 2023, on the committee hearing on Thursday, Dec 15, 2022. (John Noel E. Herrera)

By John Noel E. Herrera

The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) has requested the jamming of mobile phone signals to ensure the safety of the public during the celebration of the Dinagyang Festival in January 2023.

In a committee hearing conducted by the Iloilo City Council on Thursday, the ICPO said that blocking of mobile signals in several areas during the celebration will strengthen the security measures of the police and ensure the safety of visitors.

Iloilo City Explosive Ordinance Division (EOD) K9 Unit team leader Police Major Garrynee Tungala also hoped that the public will understand if they request the blocking of mobile signals, as it is also one way to avoid possible terrorist attacks and bomb threats.

“Gusto man tani namon nga masadya kita, maka ‘my day’ kita nga actual man galing ti, this is between convenience and security, ano bala ang dapat ta da nga i-sacrifice? Within a certain period of time lang man eh,” Tungala said.

“Although it is not an assurance nga hindi kita ma-bombahan, pahilayo lang, kay may ara pa time bomb, manually operated bombs, but at least, ang command-initiated bomb is one of the most complicated to deal with kay waay ta kasiguraduhan, and maiwasan man to get a leverage,” he added.

Tungala also clarified that while the city has no history of bombing, there are still a lot of security threats that might be present during the celebration, citing the New People’s Army (NPA) which might have a command-initiated Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

“Then ang ginagamit dira is cellphone. Ginalikawan ta da ang opportunity bala, indi ta sila pagtagaan sang oppurtunity nga makahimo sila sang bomba nga command detonatated,” he added.

The ICPO also revealed that they had already told the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)-6 about the proposal to jam cellphone signals during Dinagyang.

The proposal also stated that the signal shutdown will start from 6 am to 2 pm, on Jan 21 and 22, 2023.

The areas covered by the temporary signal shutdown include Plaza Libertad, Freedom Grandstand, Iloilo Provincial Capitol, Iloilo Terminal Market, Robinsons Place Iloilo, and some portions of Brgy. Ortiz.

The proposal added that there is also a need for signal jamming from 6 pm to 9 pm on Jan 21 in Atria, SM City, and Megaworld areas for the Dinagyang Ilomination.

Another committee hearing related to the matter will also be conducted by the city council in January 2023, weeks before the highlights of the Dinagyang Festival.

The SP also earlier noted that signal jamming has already been part of the security measures during the celebration, as the city is expecting many guests, including First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos, who just confirmed her attendance at the festival.

In the recent editions of the Dinagyang Festival, specifically from 2017 to 2020, mobile signals were blocked as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) approved the requests for mobile phone signal jamming to avoid security threats.

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