Telcos shutting down services in Manila as security tightens at Feast of Black Nazarene
Telecommunication firms will shut down their network services in the city of Manila as part of the security measures for the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday.
“Relative to the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila which will be held on January 9, 2017 Monday, telcos will temporarily cut off all network services in the City of Manila for security purposes,” said the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on its notice to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The request was made by the PNP, the DICT said. It was not mentioned what time will mobile phone services be cut on Monday.
PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa, in a radio interview early Sunday, said they want to shut down network signals from the start of the Traslacion Monday morning until the procession is finished by midnight.
He said the PNP was asking the National Telecommunications Commission “not to jam only, but to shutdown the signal in the area to be sure.”
But if the signals would be cut, he said Malacanang would also be affected.
“We will ask permission if it will be okay, but Malacanang might be willing to sacrifice if it’s for overall security,” he said.
The move follows Sunday’s imposition of a temporary gun ban in the city which will last in the morning of January 10.
President Rodrigo Duterte is “satisfied” with the security preparation for the observance of the Feast of Black Nazarene in Quiapo on Monday, Malacanang said on Sunday.
But Duterte was a bit worried on possible retaliation by terrorist groups, Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag said in an interview over a state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
“The president is satisfied and he knows that if there is something that worries him, it would be the threat of the retaliation from terrorist groups,” Banaag said.
The government troopers continue with their operations against local terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf, Maute, and Al-Khilafa, in Mindanao. All the three have pledged allegiance to the international terror group, ISIS. The government has also declared a war against illegal drugs.
While the PNP has not monitored any “clear and present danger” during the observance of the feast of the Black Nazarene, Dela Rosa said, “but we want to make sure and we are preparing.”
He said the local terror groups, such as the Lanao del Sur-based Maute Group, might retaliate.
He noted that the Maute group was behind the explosion in Davao City, leaving improvised explosive device near the United States Embassy in Manila, and the bombing in Hilongos, Leyte last year.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno has said that 15,700 security personnel, including the policemen, military, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Metro Manila Development Authority, among others, would be deployed during the event.
Dela Rosa also advised the participants in the feast to refrain from bringing back packs and wearing caps so that they could be clearly seen on CCTVs.
Those who would still bring back packs, he said it would be better to use transparent ones, otherwise, they would be questioned.
Banaag said any untoward incident during the Feast of the Black Nazarene would “not be a good precedent to any other big activities in Metro Manila or any other part in the country.”
“That’s why somehow, he (Duterte) knows that the PNP, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) (are) doing their best, LGUs (local government units) are doing their best to make sure that any threat, any attempt of untoward incident would not push through,” she said. Celerina Monte/DMS