By Jennifer P. Rendon
The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) would adhere to the recommendation of the Iloilo City government to do away with mobile phone signal jamming during the Dinagyang Festival 2024.
“We will abide if that’s their choice,” Colonel Joeresty Coronica, Iloilo City police chief, said.
In asking for signal jamming or signal shutdown, he cited that the request should emanate from the local government unit (LGU).
But Coronica said their security template for big events like the Dinagyang Festival usually includes signal jamming.
“For years, it has been part of our security preparations,” he said.
Security-wise, Coronica said the PNP would pick such inconvenience over the threat of possible bombing.
“But as I’ve said, while we prefer signal jamming, the decision of the LGU will prevail,” he said.
For the Dinagyang 2023, signal jamming was implemented for several hours for the highlights of the celebration.
Last year, the ICPO announced that they would opt for “modified” signal jamming.
By modified, the Dinagyang Festival 2023’s Sub-Site Task Group (SSTG) Venue said that signal jamming will only be imposed in areas where major events will be held.
The ICPO even claimed asking the National Telecommunications Commission to limit the places covered by the signal jamming to the performing areas.
During signal jamming, mobile features such as phone calls, short message service, and access to mobile data will not be possible in certain areas.
The ICPO even provided the NTC with a map for the coverage of the signal jamming to limit the shutdown in the areas of Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, Plaza Libertad, Plazoleta Gay, Provincial Capitol, Delgado, and Quezon Streets, and in Central Market, and the University of Iloilo where “Kasadyahan sa Kabanwahanan” and Ati Tribes Competition will be held.
Signal jamming was also implemented during the Dinagyang ILOmination tribes competition and Parade of Lights.
The areas include Seda Hotel, Gaisano City/Time Square, iloilo Business Park, Atria District, Plazuela de Iloilo, SM City, and Festive Mall.
However, instead of the identified areas only, mobile phone and internet use all over Iloilo City were shut off.
The signal jam also affected neighboring towns like Oton, San Miguel, Leganes, and some parts of Sta. Barbara.
Worse, mobile phone users in Guimaras province also claimed they received no signal.
After the backlash, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas issued a statement saying that he will no longer support signal jamming for the 2024 Dinagyang Festival.
“Except for the signal jamming, the celebration of Dinagyang 2023 was a great success. I will no longer endorse the request of the PNP for signal jamming next year,” Treñas was quoted.
But he also cited that he was taking full and complete responsibility for what happened.