Telcos shut down mobile phone signals for ‘Sinulog’ weekend festivities

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CEBU CITY — Cebuanos woke up Saturday morning with no signal on their cellphones as telecommunications companies shut down some cell sites around the hub of the Sinulog Festival activities.

Photo credit: Abe Acosta
Photo credit: Abe Acosta

“I can’t text to my friends. I can’t send messages on Facebook,” Mai-Mai Vicente, 24, told the Philippine News Agency. “This is the first time that I have to use a landline to get in touch with my friends,” she said.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) approved the request of the regional police office to jam cellphone signals during the Sinulog Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 14 to 15.

Police said most bombs are detonated using cellphone signals and they are wary of a repeat of the bombing in Hilongos, Leyte that left at least 32 people injured.

Telecommunications giants Smart Communications and Globe Telecom supported the move to switch off some cell sites.
Chief Supt. Noli Talino, regional police director, said they want “zero” cellphone signal within the 4-kilometer Sinulog route and in places where people will converge.

On Saturday, telecommunications companies switched off cell sites before the start of the fluvial parade at 6 a.m. Cell sites were shut down during the Sinulog grand parade on Sunday.

First responders relied on radio communications during the duration of the festival. Street parties have been barred within 300 meters from the grand parade route.

Police also implemented a gun ban from Jan. 9 until Jan. 18 as they aim for a “zero gun-related incident” during the festivities. — PNA

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