Police said they are not bent on jamming phone signals as part of their security measures during the festival this year unless there is really a need to do so.
No signal jam ‘unless needed’
Iris Hazel M. Mascardo, Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - January 9, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Unlike in the last three years, those Sinulog selfies may finally hit the social media real-time this time around.

Police said they are not bent on jamming phone signals as part of their security measures during the festival this year unless there is really a need to do so.

“Pwedeng wala, pwedeng meron (there may be, there may not be) but the police will be ready to implement it anytime the need arises,” Cebu City Police Office Director Colonel Engelbert Soriano told reporters yesterday.

Mayor Edgardo Labella is among those not keen on shutting down signal without imminent threats since, according to him, locals and foreigners who are in Cebu to experience the festival also need to communicate with their families.

“Based on the intelligence consideration of the police, (we will only jam signals) as the need arises in certain areas, but there is no total shutdown of the signals of phones,” said Labella.

Labella said that many tourists from all over the world, some of them accommodated in hotels and others staying with their relatives, need signal for communication purposes.

“It is important that especially with the number of about 4 million people, importante nga maka-contact sila,” he said.

“It was an experience before that many were complaining, especially foreigners who could no longer contact and find it difficult to go back to their respective hotels and condominiums,” he added.

Labella said he trusts the capability of the police authorities in providing security, as well as their intelligence gathering.

Soriano, for his part, said that signal jamming equipment and complete technical support will be on standby in case it will be necessary to shut down signal.

One instance, he said, when that may happen is when the police would address a specific concern.

“Halimbawa, biglang may na-report sa amin na unattended baggage, shutdown kami. Kung may ma report sa amin na suspicious article na walang nagki-claim, magsa-shutdown kami (For instance, if there is unattended baggage or suspicious article that has been left unclaimed, we will shut down phone signals),” Soriano said.

He said that the two major mobile networks have already been informed of such arrangement.

Should cops block signals, Soriano said the specific times they will be implemented are not expected to be announced as it will be part of the security measures.

“Don’t expect us to announce the specific schedule of the shutdown because it will defeat the purpose,” he said.

Both the police and the city officials have vowed to institute measures to maintain peace and order during the festivities.

Labella has signed an executive order banning entertainment activities and the sale and drinking of alcoholic beverages within the 100-meter radius from the routes of the Solemn Procession on January 18 and the Grand Parade on January 19.

To establishments allowed to sell liquors, Soriano has a request:

“On my part, I recommended, if we allow (the) selling of liquor (within that area), baka pwedeng wag bote: i-serve nila sa plastic cups. That will lessen the possibility of throwing bottles sa crowd.”  JMD (FREEMAN)

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