‘HASSLE-FREE REVELRY’: It’s final, no signal jamming for Dinagyang

Teachers of LaPaz National High School prepare the costumes that members of the famed Tribu Paghida-et will use during the Dinagyang Tribes Competition on January 28, 2024. The festival promises to be hassle-free after the local government junked proposals to shut down telecom signals as part of security measures. (Al Destacamento photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The thousands of revelers expected to flock to Iloilo City can now enjoy seamless communication during the major activities of the Dinagyang Festival this week.

This is after the Iloilo City Council came up with its final decision that no signal jamming will be implemented in the week-long celebration of the world-renowned festival.

In its regular session on Wednesday, the City Council denied the request of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) for a temporary shutdown of mobile network signals in specific areas of the city on January 27 and 28.

“The committee recommends the disapproval of the request of the PRO-6 for the shutdown of cellular network services in certain areas in Iloilo City,” said Councilor Sedfrey Cabaluna, who chairs the committee on public safety.

PRO-6’s request is to impose signal jamming particularly in judging areas for the performances of the Ati-atihan tribes competition.

Cabaluna pointed out that the request of PRO-6 for a modified signal jamming during major events of the Iloilo Dinagyang is “not possible for lack of equipment to implement it.”

He stressed that since the city government lacks signal jamming devices, the last recourse would be a complete shutdown of all cellular network services through the National Telecommunications Commission, instructing telecommunication companies to deactivate their cellular sites.

“[A shutdown] could also mean disabling all communication platforms, transactions, and services relying on cellular network services in a widespread area. It would have adverse effects on business, livelihood and connectivity, emergency response, and even public safety and security as well,” he emphasized.

The city councilor further urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies to employ heightened intelligence operations, intensified border-to-border monitoring, and other stringent measures to ensure a safe Dinagyang Festival.

It can be recalled that in the 2023 edition of the festival, the mobile phone signal shutdown was met with criticism from businesses in Iloilo City and neighboring towns.

The signal jamming during last year’s Dinagyang Festival reportedly affected the city’s neighboring towns, including Oton, Pavia, Cabatuan, and the island province of Guimaras.

The incident then prompted Treñas to reject future requests of the PNP for signal jamming.