THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered Globe Telecom and Smart Communications to shut off their cell sites during Sinulog activities starting at dawn Saturday, January 18, 2020 until the close of the Sinulog Grand Parade on Sunday.
The NTC doesn’t want any cellphone signal during the fluvial or seaborne procession on Saturday, from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., and from noon to 8 p.m. during the solemn procession.
In the morning activity, areas that will be affected include the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. In the afternoon, only the uptown and downtown areas of Cebu City will be affected.
During the Sinulog Grand Parade on Sunday, January 19, the shutoff will be between 3 a.m. and 7 p.m., or when the parade ends. Areas to be affected will be uptown and downtown Cebu City.
Col. Engelbert Soriano, officer-in-charge of the Cebu City Police Office, said he has yet to receive the letter from the NTC.
He said they are focusing on their preparations to secure the routes during this weekend.
While waiting for confirmation from the NTC, he said they will continue to check for threats. If they see a need to recommend a signal shutdown during the three Sinulog activities, they will do so immediately, he said.
Smart Communications issued Thursday an advisory that “in the interest of public safety, upon the instructions” of NTC, it is temporarily shutting down mobile phone services of Smart, TNT and Sun starting early morning of Saturday.
These will be in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities and uptown and downtown Cebu City, and nearby areas where Sinulog activities will take place.
It will restore its mobile phone services as soon as it gets the go-signal from the authorities, Smart said.
Globe Telecom confirmed that it will shut off its cell sites at certain times on Jan. 18 and 19.
Patrick Gloria, Globe director for external affairs in Visayas and Mindanao, told SunStar Cebu they are only heeding the NTC order, following the request from the Police Regional Office (PRO) Central Visayas.
“We always comply with the NTC. If they will order a signal shutdown, we will follow,” he said.
Globe will release an official statement on Friday, Jan 17.
The NTC also ordered a shutoff of cellular sites, not a total shutdown of mobile signals and internet access in Cebu, during the seaborne and solemn processions and the grand parade in last year’s Sinulog festival.
Meanwhile, officials of the PRO 7 met with their counterparts at the Presidential Security Group to discuss security measures for the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte, who confirmed that he would attend the Sinulog Grand Parade on Sunday. (AYB / RSR, JOB)