ILOILO CITY—Police, transport regulation, and emergency services personnel in this city are ready for the influx of visitors who want to witness the Dinagyang Festival 2023.
Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) operations chief Police Lt. Col. Rene Obregon Jr. said they have been engaging with the main organizer, Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI) since October 2022, and have been engaging in contingency planning workshops with assigned officers as part of their preparations.
The Police Regional Office in Western Visayas (PRO-6) has established a task group, in addition to the ICPO’s own Site Task Group, composed of different components on security and peace and order.
“We have four site sub-task groups and created different task units purposely to cater to our security needs. We will talk about the important activities where we will be implementing our security plan for Dinagyang 2023,” said Obregon during a press conference on Tuesday.
Should there be any “naughty merrymakers”, there will be a ‘mobile jail’ ready courtesy of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) instead of the previously caged container vans.
The ICPO will be complemented by personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, the National Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies.
They will also be joined by more than 2,000 personnel to be deployed by the PRO-6, with many coming from manning the celebrations of the Ati-atihan in Kalibo, Aklan.
“To everyone who will be coming, from Iloilo City and Iloilo province and other provinces, to the Dinagyang Festival 2023, we are all set with the security plans for implementation, and starting on [January 13], we will be establishing border control operations outside and in between Oton, Pavia, and Leganes towns,” Obregon shared.
Their request for a gun ban has been approved, according to Obregon, while their request for a modified signal blockage across the festival event areas remained pending with the National Telecommunications Commission.
As to the traffic situation, Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) chief Jeck Conlu presented traffic management deployment, public utility jeepney (PUJ), and road clearing deployment plans.
A portion of the Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue in Mandurriao district (also known as Diversion Road), from Taft North intersection to San Rafael intersection, will be fully closed starting at 5:00 p.m. for the evening ‘ILOmination’ event on January 21, with the possibility of closing as early as 2:00 p.m.
They will be reopened once the last contingents have passed, and Conlu says they expect this to be at 9:00 p.m.
“We have a greater deployment this year because the ILOmination event is a big event,” Conlu said.
Darwin Papa of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) said that they have a total of 164 personnel spread throughout 20 ground teams with 27 ambulances ready across five task forces and one strike team.
Four of these task forces will be deployed to the tribal competitions’ stages at the Freedom Grandstand, Quezon Street, Mapa Street, and the Provincial Capitol area, while one will be at the Dinagyang Food Fest along Aldeguer, Arsenal, Solis, Yulo, Delgado, and Valeria Streets.
The Freedom, Quezon, and Mapa task forces will be transferred to Mandurriao district at night to be stationed during the ‘ILOmination’ activity.
Papa likewise reminded visitors to unplug all electrical appliances, secure all valuables in safe places, and eat their breakfast before going to the festival area, citing fatigue and hypoglycemia in past years.
He also advised festival-goers to bring their water in reusable containers, small umbrellas or hats, and candy, and keep them in smaller bags to avoid longer frisking times at entrance areas.
“On top of all of this, we are asking [the public] to maintain minimum health standards. Wear masks at all times, especially at crowded places during Dinagyang because there will be many people there, and if you are feeling something, refrain from completely engaging in festival areas,” said Papa.
One of the festival’s artistic directors, Prof. Eric Divinagracia, also advised the public that the Dagyang sa Barangay program may be stalled between 30 minutes to 1 hour due to the possible attendance by the First Family, other VIPs, or upon the insistence of the Presidential Security Group.
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