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Palace confirms jamming cellular phone services in Manila

Malacanang Monday (January 9) said it has asked telecommunication companies to temporarily disconnect their services in some areas of the city of Manila, particularly along the route of the Black Nazarene procession.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the cellular companies only heeded the government’s request to fully cooperate with law enforcement agencies and take precautionary measures to enhance public safety during the observance of the Quiapo fiesta on Monday.

During the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday, Valte confirmed reports that telecommunication firms jammed their mobile signals in response to the appeal of President Benigno Aquino III to the telecommunication companies and the public to cooperate with the government to ensure peace and order during the feast of the Black Nazarene.

“All of them responded. The disruption in mobile services will be along the routes to be taken by the procession and it will last for the entire duration,” Valte said, adding that “as holders of a franchise, the public safety is paramount.”

The President has announced last January 8 intelligence reports of possible terrorist attacks during the Feast of the Black Nazarene even as he ordered law enforcement agencies and the military to step up its efforts to maintain peace and order during the celebration.

“On the interruption of the mobile services, of course we feel that it is warranted as an additional security measure and is necessary for us to ensure that nothing untoward will happen during the period of the procession, and the celebration,” Valte said.

“Second, there are still landlines that are available for them to be able to report. It’s not the entire area, we wish to stress. There are areas that are not part of the interruption, or the disruption, in the mobile service,” she said.

Lawless elements had used cellular phones to trigger explosives from remote locations in several countries in the past.

Valte also assured that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies will continue implementing enhanced security measures not only in Manila but the entire NCR as well.

She stressed that the President’s warning to the public about the intelligence reports had nothing to do with the United States (US) travel advisory.

“First, on the US travel advisory, as mentioned by the President (on Sunday) there is no connection to the release… of the advisory and the corresponding warnings that were made. While we routinely receive intelligence reports of this nature, as also mentioned by the National Security Adviser, there is a process by which we arrive at the assessment. And it was, because of recent developments, that it was conveyed to the President yesterday,” she said.