ILOILO City – As part of the security measures for the 2019 Dinagyang Festival, mobile phone services may be suspended during the two-day highlights of the annual celebration on Jan. 26 (Kasadyahan cultural contest) and Jan. 27 (ati-ati tribes competition).
The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) recently asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to order a cell phone signal jamming from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We are waiting for its approval,” said Senior Superintendent Martin Defensor, city police director.
In the 2017 and 2018 editions of Dinagyang, NTC approved the police’s request for mobile phone signal jamming.
Last year, the temporary shutdown of mobile phone services – calls, text messaging and mobile data – covered the City Proper, and specifically within the 3-km radius of the judging areas for Dinagyang tribe performances.
Explaining the phone signal jamming, NTC said terrorists could detonate improvised explosive devices using cell phone signals.
So far, according to Defensor, the ICPO had not monitored threats to the festival.
The police, however, is not leaving anything to chance.
“During the merrymaking nights on Jan. 26 and 27, we will double the number of our personnel doon sa mga kiosks kon sa diin naga-ilininom,” said Defensor.
Revellers would be prohibited from bringing bladed, sharp and pointed objects which could be used to harm others, he added.
Boosting the ICPO’s Dinagyang security measures is the election gun ban that starts on Jan. 13 and ends on June 2. Carrying or transporting firearms, explosives or other deadly weapons would be prohibited.
During the gun ban period, only policemen and personnel of other law enforcement agencies performing official duties will be allowed to carry firearms. But they must be in their complete uniforms.
Around 10,000 security officers – policemen, soldiers and force multipliers – would be keeping the Dinagyang Festival peaceful and orderly, according to the ICPO.
The force multipliers would include Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets from various colleges and universities and village watchmen, among others.
Today is the Dinagyang Festival opening salvo. From then on until the ati-ati tribes competition on Jan. 27, a series of activities would be held such as the Iloilo Dinagyang Run on Jan. 20, the Miss Iloilo Dinagyang beauty pageant on Jan. 25 and the Kasadyahan cultural contest on Jan. 26, among others.
Of the 10,000 security officers, 4,000 would be policemen, said Defensor.
Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel would help secure the city.
Defensor appealed to those planning to watch and join Dinagyang activities to avoid bringing with them valuables that could be easily stolen such as electronic gadgets and jewelry.
Last year, the ICPO recorded 15 peace and order-related incidents during the two-day Dinagyang highlights such as physical injury and theft.
The incidents were lower than the 49 cases recorded in the 2017 edition of the festival./PN