By Alex P. Vidal
“Monsters aren’t as scary if you start shining lights on them.”—Wyatt Cenac
INSTEAD of making an appeal to the Iloilo City Government to approve the proposed shutdown of telecommunications network during the major events of the Dinagyang Festival, the Police Regional Office-Western Visayas (PRO-6) should focus on the police works vis-à-vis the potential saboteurs and other troublemakers.
The telecommunications network shutdown has been proven to be worthless and unnecessary if its intention was “to maintain peace and order” when it was implemented in the previous Dinagyang Festivals.
In fact, Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas and the city aldermen were correct to nix the absurd proposal made earlier by the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO).
We’re sure the Ilonggo populace and the civilian authorities will back City Hall on this matter.
Ditto for the visiting tourists, the Department of Tourism, the Iloilo Business Club, and other major stakeholders and sponsors.
We expect Treñas, et al to further deny the appeal made by PRO-6 director, Brig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor.
Treñas was expected to explain to Villaflor a signal shutdown during the festival’s highlight days or major and side events wouldn’t be necessary.
Like a power outage, a signal shutdown during the important local events like the Dinagyang Festival is scary and appalling.
It’s like shining lights on the sleeping Frankensteins who don’t intend to wake up in the first place.
In the age of Internet and the social media, where electronic and satellite communications are vital and compulsory, shutting down the signals is like separating the Ilonggos—or the entire metropolis for that matter—from the rest of the world.
It’s like cutting off the entire city and province from the civilization albeit temporarily; and it has major negative consequences in the business, tourism, and safety of the Ilonggos.
Ilonggos can’t afford a double whammy. Only weeks ago, or in the aftermath of the New Year’s Eve 2024 celebrations around the globe, a massive and perilous darkness brought by unannounced power interruptions, blanketed the entire populace and its environs.
With no assurances from the authorities, including the badly battered National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), the Department of Energy, and other major sentinels in the country’s power industry, it isn’t far-fetched that power blackout will once again terrorize the Ilonggos like a thief in the night.
And what it if would strike anew during the Dinagyang Festival, or on the days—the highlights of the religious and cultural festival—that telecommunication shutdowns were implemented? God forbid.
Typically responsible for maintaining public order and safety, enforcing the law, and preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activities, the police in the region aren’t actually hard-pressed to safeguard the Ilonggos and their visitors during the Dinagyang Festival.
It’s their primordial duty to monitor, check and countercheck the movements and activities of lawless elements even without a mammoth festivity.
The City of Love is not a war-torn territory; it has been relatively peaceful with no history of sabotage from malcontents and terrorist disruptions.
There have been no reports of terror groups and organized gangs mulcting from the business establishments and threats to inflict a mayhem in the civilian population if their demands weren’t met.
Iloilo City and the neighboring municipalities affected by the festival’s economic and cultural spheres and influence isn’t as big and complicated as Metro Manila where the police authorities have been able to safeguard the people without much ado especially during the recent chaotic and more dizzying Black Nazarene procession.
BRUTAL TEMPERATURE. A brutal winter storm has been sweeping across the US, with around 79 percent of the country expecting below-freezing temperatures early this week. Over 140 daily cold records could be broken from Oregon to Mississippi as temperatures in Memphis, Dallas and Nashville could stay below freezing for at least 72 consecutive hours. The storm has caused dangerous road conditions and airports are experiencing thousands of delays and cancellations. More than 4,000 flights within, into or out of the country, were postponed on Sunday, and over 1,000 were canceled, according to tracking site FlightAware. Residents in some states, including Texas, have also been urged to conserve electricity to prevent straining power grids.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)