City Council leans towards rejecting signal shutdown for Dinagyang 2024

Traffic in downtown Iloilo City is becoming hellish as the Dinagyang festival approaches. (Mariela Angella Oladive photo)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

The chance of a temporary telecom signal shutdown during the Dinagyang Festival 2024, as proposed by the Police Regional Office (PRO) 6, seems most unlikely.

Following a committee hearing on January 18 with various stakeholders, including PRO 6, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), telecommunication companies, and Councilor Sedfrey Cabaluna indicated a probable recommendation to deny the request.

Cabaluna, who chairs the committee on public safety, said a selective signal shutdown is impossible and they do not want to inconvenience other people who need telecom signal for their work and businesses, just like what happened last year.

“Most likely ang recommendation naton nga dal-on sa aton session sa Miyerkules (January 24) will be really to deny this request for signal shutdown kay ti indi man masarangan nga mag-specific areas anyway and basically a shutdown will have more negative impact sa tanan nga sector. So, ang aton nga recommendation would really be not to approve [the request],” he added.

In an interview on January 16, Cabaluna, who was surprised by the proposal, expressed his strong opposition to the proposed signal shutdown if it will affect areas outside Iloilo City.

“I am not in favor of the signal shutdown, kon pareho sa gihapon nga kabilugan pati Guimaras, Pavia, and Oton will be shut down because of our event here sa City na wala man sila ya kalabot-labot, then I’m against it. The only way you can convince me otherwise is if you’re capable of specific targeted jamming or if there is a compelling reason like security threats, particularly insurgency,” the councilor said.

Cabaluna underscored the potential adverse effects of the signal shutdown on tourism, the economy, and various industries.

He highlighted the possible impact of the shutdown on businesses heavily reliant on telecom networks, potential disruptions to the banking industry, and even safety concerns for ordinary individuals who may face difficulties in communication.

Expressing the need to weigh the consequences carefully, he said, “There are things that really need careful consideration.”

Cabaluna urged for a more professional discussion on the matter.

“Ang akon lang ya wala lang tani langas-langas nga istorya bala nga inyo nga council manabat ha? Dapat professional kita,” he remarked adding that the PRO 6’s move should be focused on having a Plan B or alternative to secure the safety of Dinagyang revelers.

PRO 6 proposed a signal shutdown in Dinagyang judging areas on January 27 from 1 PM to 6 PM and on January 28.

The council will decide on the matter on January 24.