Terrorism among reasons for street party ban
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña admitted that the implementation of safety measures for Sinulog 2018 is because of the possible spillover of terrorism threat from ISIS-inspired Maute bandits to Cebu.
Osmeña has announced that he will not tolerate all establishments that will violate the ban on liquor and street party within the 300-meter radius of the Sinulog route next year.
“Essentially, (it’s for) crowd control. A major consideration is a possibility of a detonation of a bomb because there is no way we can examine what everybody is bringing to the parade,” he told reporters.
Osmeña said it is better to split the crowd to avoid a stampede, among other possible incidents.
He said the city has to divert the rowdy portion to another area which is at South Road Properties where locators can host big events during Sinulog festivity.
“If nothing happens, everyone will blame me for being KJ (kill joy). I don’t care basta I’m really terrified because the terrorists are badly hurt in Marawi and they have every motivation to retaliate,” he said.
“One way I could do is tempering the merriment and ask people to be very cautious about strangers moving to your neighborhood, be cautious about items left in the sidewalk,” he added.
Osmeña said the city may also implement the shutting down of cell sites in selected areas for security purposes just like what was done during big events in Cebu this year.
However, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) is not very sold to the idea of having telecommunication signals jammed during the Sinulog festivities next year.
Supt. Artemio Ricabo, CCPO Deputy Director for Administration, said doing so will prevent “efficient” communication among cops who might need to call for backup in case an untoward incident happens.
As for the business establishments that were supposed to be closed this year, Osmeña said he tolerated these businesses to continue operating but hopes that his warning will be taken seriously.
Next year, Osmeña said the closure of the businesses will be implemented if establishments will violate the executive order that will be issued banning liquors and street parties within the 300-meter radius of the Sinulog route.
The Sinulog grand parade starts on Imus Road to Gen. Maxilom Avenue, to Fuente Osmeña, down to Osmeña Boulevard and then to the Cebu City Sports Center for the ritual presentation at the grandstand.
The ban on liquor and street party within the 300-meter radius of the Sinulog route will take place on January 19 to January 21 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“I decided to tolerate it. I think the warning is good enough. I think people believe that I will really close them. No more warnings for next year. People know I’m serious enough. Hopefully,” the mayor said, adding that he can order the closure of the restaurants and bars within the 300-meter radius just as he can order the closure of big establishments in the city.
The city government will be deploying Kaohsiung buses where rowdy and unruly revelers, who will also be caught drinking or holding beer bottles, will be detained.
City Councilor David Tumulak, deputy mayor for police matters, said it is better to separate big events to disperse the people.
“We are more proactive this time. We have to be wise in our deployment of security personnel and force multipliers,” he added.
Ricabo, on the other hand, said that just like last year, they will designate two cops in every 10 meters of the route and deploy about 1,000 police personnel, not including the augmentation forces and the force multipliers.
He added they are finalizing the plans with local government agencies.
In a related development, the Fuente police station has raised efforts to increase the level of security awareness among stakeholders in the hospitality business to ensure the safety of the expected flock of tourists for the yuletide season and Sinulog celebration.
They conducted the second leg of seminar on terrorism, robbery and other criminality, attended by at least 70 security managers and representatives of different pension houses up to five star hotels.
Chief Insp. Maria Theresa Macatangay, chief of Fuente police station, said that activity will better prepare the business establishments in times of emergency situation.
“This is one of the initiatives to make us ready. We are trying our best here in this part of the region to make all the stakeholders aware of the respective responsibility when it comes to the maintenance of peace and order,” Macatangay said.