Espinoza: No threats. So, no signal shutdown.

There is no question that the safety of the people during the Sinulog Festival on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023 as well as the Fiesta Señor eve is the responsibility of the police. As part of its primary security measure, it requested the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for a signal shutdown of the telcos at selected hours of the day on Jan. 14 and 15. It was reported that NTC already sent the signal shutdown memorandum to Smart Communications and Globe Telecommunications.

In the absence, however, of any serious threat or risk to the lives and limbs of the participants of the activities set on Jan. 14-15, a signal shutdown would only cause confusion, if not chaos, taking into consideration the humongous size of crowd that is expected to join the seaborne procession in the morning of Saturday and the solemn procession in the afternoon, and during the Grand Sinulog Parade at the South Road Properties (SRP).

After all, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Brig. Gen. Jerry Bearis confirmed, in a statement before the press, that their office has not received any serious threat to disturb the peace during the Sinulog and Fiesta Señor.

I could not agree more to the decision of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama in disagreeing with the police’s recommendation for a signal shutdown from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Jan. 14 during the seaborne procession. The signal shutdown covers the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue. Another signal shutdown on the same day is planned during the solemn procession from 12 noon to 8 p.m. in the downtown and uptown areas of Cebu City. Likewise, there is a planned signal shutdown on Sunday during the Sinulog Grand Parade from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the SRP and downtown areas of Cebu City.

A signal shutdown of the telcos would inconvenience not only the public and the tourists but it also would mean less live coverage by the different media outfits that rely on the signal from the telcos.

Since Mayor Rama already made the decision that there will be no signal shutdown of the telcos, then it behooves upon the police to again write NTC not to implement its memorandum directing the telcos to shut down the cellphone signals on Jan. 14 and 15.

Last Tuesday, Mayor Rama was quoted as saying: “I have been making a statement before, let us not get into Jurassic (period) like we are being primitive. Communication is very important. Disconnection should always be frowned upon, so let us not think about jamming.”

But would there be a chance that Mayor Rama would be prevailed upon by his advisers, or by someone who he could not refuse for him to abide by the recommendation of the police? I could only wish he shouldn’t.

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Mayor Rama has received enormous criticisms from the netizens and mainstream media on his choice of the new venue for the Sinulog Grand Parade and Ritual Showdown at the SRP wherein the work on the stage is still ongoing and the ground is muddy because of the incessant rain lately. There were even jokes on social media that a warehouse had already sold out its rain boots.

I don’t think that Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia would still dance at the Sinulog Grand Parade at the new venue during the finale despite her promise to dance. To recall, Governor Garcia danced the Sinulog at the ritual showdown during the pre-pandemic Sinulog Grand Parade when the Cebu City Sports Center was the event’s venue.

Governor Garcia prefers the venue at the Cebu City Sports Center as she is concerned with the traffic that would arise when the SRP road would be closed on Sunday.