‘Modified signal jamming’ for Dinagyang: What went wrong?

Revelers keep on snapping Dinagyang photos despite the signal jamming which affected areas way outside Iloilo City. (June Dale Lozada photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

Phone signal jamming during major festivals has been a norm in the country.

From Sinulog Festival of Cebu to Ari-Atihan in Kalibo to the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila, signal jamming has been adopted to avert terrorist activities, particularly bombings.

For several years, the Dinagyang Festival has also moved for signal jamming as part of its security preparations.

This year, the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) announced that it would adopt a modified signal jamming.

By modified, Lieutenant Colonel Rene Obregon, Dinagyang Festival 2023’s Sub-Site Task Group (SSTG) Venue commander, said that signal jamming will only be imposed in areas where major events will be held.

In a press conference, Obregon said they asked the National Telecommunications Commission to limit the signal jamming to the performing areas.

“So the modified scheme of the signal shutdown will not affect the whole metropolis, unlike the previous celebration,” he was quoted to have said.

During signal jamming, mobile features such as phone calls, short message service, and access to mobile data will not be possible in certain areas.

Obregon said they provided the NTC with a map for the coverage of the signal jamming and the latter assured the ICPO that it would try to limit the shutdown to 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 were held.

The signal jamming ran from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on January 21 and 22.

Signal jamming was also implemented during the Dinagyang ILOmination tribes competition and Parade of Lights on Jan 21 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the new business district in Mandurriao.

The areas include Seda Hotel, Gaisano City/Time Square, Iloilo Business Park, Atria District, Plazuela de Iloilo, SM City, and Festive Mall.

The modified signal jamming happened, but it turned for the worse as mobile phone and internet use all over Iloilo City were shut off.

The signal loss also affected neighboring towns of Oton, San Miguel, Leganes, Pavia, and some parts of Sta. Barbara.

Worse, mobile phone users in Guimaras province also claimed losing their signal.

On Sunday evening, Obregon said that they have yet to discuss with the NTC what went wrong.

“Since this is a matter of technical issue, I couldn’t probably explain it. But as far as we are concerned, we presented to them a map of the areas where the signal shutdown should be done,” he said.

Obregon said they will make a report about it and probably ask the NTC why the coverage of the signal jamming reached as far as more than 10 kilometers away from the proposed areas.

Ilonggos slammed the hassle caused by the signal loss. They cited that such a move meant stripping the public of the means to communicate during emergency situations.

It also affected businesses and jobs.

Some cited that the police and law enforcers are equipped to handle security preparations sans signal jamming.