NTC bares protocol on proposed Sinulog signal shutdown
ALL requests to shut down mobile phone signals from telecommunication companies shall be done by the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
This was the new protocol crafted by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in light of several requests to shut down cellular sites during big events happening in the country.
“It has to be the chief PNP who shall request the NTC central office in Manila for mobile signal shutdowns,” NTC-7 Director Laureno told Cebu Daily News over the phone on Wednesday.
Laureno explained that the PNP chief has to first establish that there are imminent security threats to the place where the event will be held.
“Shutting down of cell sites is definitely not easy as it conveys massive effects on people. Unless there are security threats, NTC won’t easily consider requests made to this effect,” Laureno said.
Last year, cell phone signals were shut down by NTC in some parts of the cities of Mandaue and Cebu during the fluvial and solemn foot processions of the Sto. Niño image held a day before the Sinulog Grand Parade which falls every third Sunday of January, the feast day of the Child Jesus.
The same security measure was implemented in Cebu City during the grand parade.
At that time, it was the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) who made the request to shut down cell sites.
Last Monday, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña raised the possibility of asking the NTC to shut down cellular phone signals during next year’s Sinulog festivities as part of security preparations for Cebu’s grandest and biggest celebration.
Laureno said Osmeña, as the chief executive of Cebu City, can make the recommendation, but it has to be PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa who shall make the formal request.
If the request will be approved, Laureno said the NTC commissioner will notify telecommunication companies about it.
“The security of everyone is our concern. If indeed there are threats, then the request (to shut down mobile phone signals) shall be given due consideration,” he said.
Laureno said that last January, NTC had to shut down the signals from about 400 cell sites, not just in Cebu City, but also in the islands of Mactan, Bohol and parts of Leyte.
“Even if we shut down the cell sites in Cebu City, we noticed that Cebu City continued to receive signals from the cell sites in Mactan, Bohol or even Leyte. So what we did was to also shut down the signals from those areas,” he explained.
“It’s definitely a tall order considering the areas that will be affected. Once you shut down one cell site, you also have to do the same in nearby cell sites that transmit signals,” he added.
Senior Supt. Renato Dugan, spokesperson of PRO-7, said they welcome the possibility of shutting down mobile phone signals again for the second year in a row to secure thousands of devotees expected to attend the religious and cultural activities in honor of the Sto. Niño de Cebu on January 20–21, 2018.
“We did that last January (2017), and it turned out to be good,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“Of course, we want to hear the sentiments of the public. But on the part of the PNP, our priority is the safety of the public. Regardless of everything, our emphasis is always the security,” Dugan added.
Dugan said the PNP had yet to come up with a final decision on whether or not to again request the NTC to shut down mobile phone signals during the Sinulog.
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