Signal shutdown looms: Duterte to grace Sinulog
CEBU, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will be in Cebu on Sunday for the Sinulog festivities, the first time he will grace the occasion since ascending to the presidency in 2016.
What the president’s scheduled visit means for the police is more stringent security measures that may possibly include a signal shutdown yet again.
Michael Lloyd Dino, chief of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, announced Duterte’s planned appearance in this year’s Sinulog through a post on his official Facebook page yesterday afternoon.
The post read: “We are happy to announce that President Rodrigo Duterte will be attending the Sinulog Grand Parade 2020 this Sunday. This is the first time that the President is joining the Sinulog Festival.”
About a month ago, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella sent a personal invitation to Duterte to attend the Sinulog Grand Parade which will happen on January 19.
“I am honored at the same time I’m humbled that the response of the president was positive,” he said in an interview yesterday.
“It will make the Sinulog more exciting and it will also give the pilgrims, the devotees, and the people of Cebu City again to have a good glimpse of our beloved president,” he added.
Dino confirmed that also coming to town with President Duterte are Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
Duterte’s advanced party is expected to be in Cebu on Thursday or Friday to finalize his itinerary. Until then, no other details of the presidential visit may be made available.
Brigadier General Valeriano De Leon, chief of Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, separately confirmed the president’s visit.
“Darating siya (The president will come),” he told reporters at a press conference yesterday.
“Malaki talaga ang porsiyento para dumalo siya (There’s a big chance that he will visit),” De Leon said.
Amid public clamor for the police to make a black and white announcement as to whether there will be signal block just like in the previous three Sinulog celebrations, De Leon reiterated that police may recommend for signal shutdown only when the need arises and the safety is at stake.
Cebu City police earlier said that if there would be signal shutdown, its time of enforcement would not be announced or else its purpose to strengthen security would be defeated.
De Leon said yesterday that they are ready to do it when the situation calls for it. Labella expressed the same sentiments.
“We have to rely on the intelligence community and Philippine National Police. If the visit of the president would warrant the need… then, of course, by all means we have to secure the visit and if one way of securing the visit is for have some shutdowns every now and then, as the need arises, I will gladly comply with that,” Labella said.
“I think the visit of the president is a compelling need that will arise for us to shut down (signals), if necessary,” he added.
Labella assured that there will be stricter security enforcement because local officials and authorities also have a corresponding obligation to secure the president’s attendance during the Sinulog.
“I am confident that the Presidential Security Group in collaboration with our PNP and other law enforcement agencies will see to it that the president’s visit will be secured and will be meaningful and enjoyable for all of us,” the mayor said.
Meanwhile, after learning of the president’s visit, the PRO-7 chief also said that a contingency security plan is in place as he assured that other Sinulog-related activities will not be compromised because of the top chief executive’s coming.
A main highlight of the festival, the Grand Parade spans several kilometers that lead to the main venue, the Cebu City Sports Center, where the ritual showdown will be held and entries for the float, higante, and puppet categories presented.
De Leon said 33 marshals on board motorcycles will be deployed along the parade route to boost security. He said PRO-7 has also conducted an aerial inspection on the venue and parade and procession routes as part of security preparations. JMD (FREEMAN)