Daily Archives: January 9, 2020

Tension could affect Fil-Ams’ festival attendance No to jamming of phone signal during ‘Dinagyang’ “There is no country on Earth where Internet and telecommunications companies do not face at least some pressure from governments to do things that would potentially infringe on users’ rights to free expression and privacy.” —Rebecca MacKinnon By Alex P. Vidal NOW it’s the Iloilo City Council which approved the suggestion of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) to shut down the telecommunication lines—but only for one day—during the main highlight of the “reinvigorated” and “repackaged” Dinagyang Festival 2020. Three years ago, we spearheaded the opposition and criticism in the Iloilo media on the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) proposal to shut down for two days the telecommunication signal in Iloilo City during the Dinagyang Festival’s final days held in the third week of January. Although we respect the authorities and their expertise in the handling of our security, we thought it was a veritable copycat of what the PNP did when Pope Francis visited Manila on January 15-19, 2015 and during the Black Nazarene procession. It’s also a clear case of infringement on users’ rights to free expression and privacy especially now that we live in the world of Internet and in golden age of social media. -o0o- We insisted that when communication lines are shut down during important events like the Dinagyang Festival, the comfort and safety of visiting tourists and the residents who update their relatives in other regions and abroad on what’s going on in their locality are jeopardized. We pointed out that drug addicts and drunken dolts don’t use high-tech communication gadgets to create a trouble. We are glad and we congratulate Councilor Allan Zaldivar who cast the lone vote to oppose the same proposal this year. Police deployed in performance areas can always manually overpower any amok in the crowd. We argued that no real terrorists from other regions–or even outside the country– will commit a “hara-kiri” or “kamikaze attack” by sneaking inside the well-guarded Iloilo City, surrounded by treacherous rivers, just to sabotage the Dinagyang. -o0o- “If they only intend to extort cash, bringing an explosive device in Iloilo City is like holding a microphone in public and announcing that they would pee at the Plazoleta Gay,” I wrote in jest. “If they intend to send a political message, they will not only be barking at the wrong tree, they will be in the wrong place of the planet. Malacanang and Imperial Manila are several islands and regions away.” Here’s what I wrote about the controversial jamming of telecommunication lines during the historic festival: “I grew up in Iloilo City in the Philippines and witnessed how Dinagyang Festival started as a ramshackle religious and cultural activity until it blossomed into a behemoth international attraction. Since the actual street dancing Dinagyang festivities romped off in the 70’s, the real problem was peace and order–drunken revelries, ill-behaved drug addicts and gangs composed of skinny but tattooed teenagers. No invasion of the third kind. No rebellion. No earth-shaking tumult. There were incidents of mugging, snatching, vandalism, acts of lasciviousness, street rumble, stabbing, among other street-level crimes. The police handled the situation and nipped the troublemakers in the bud. It’s the proliferation of illegal drugs, especially shabu, and the sales of liquor in the streets that should be regulated if not stopped during the week-long festival in the month of January. Not the “jamming” of cellular phone signals.” (The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.”

Wayne Dyer

By Alex P. Vidal
ALTHOUGH tension between the U.S. and Iran appeared to have simmered down when President Trump on January 8 decided to step back from confrontation with the angry Islamic state which fired several rockets to the U.S. military bases in Iraq, many anxious Filipino-Americans (FIl-Ams) may have decided to cancel their trip to other foreign lands.

The step may be considered as a precautionary measure and to ensure their safety.

Some of them may even skip this year’s most popular cultural and spiritual festivals in the Philippines like the celebration of the feast of Senior Santo Nino in Iloilo City (Dinagyang Festival), Cebu City (Sinulog Festival), Kalibo, Aklan (Ati-Atihan Festival).

Americans will continue to be a target of terroristic attack anywhere in the world today where there are presence of pro-Iran sentiments and militant groups that are anti-America.


We’ve learned that some US-based Pinoys who regularly visit the Philippines during this season are now adamant to fly because of the unpredictable situation.

Some of them were supposed to go home this month for the Senior Santo Nino Festivals, among other important cultural and religious celebrations.

Their paranoia has been exacerbated by the mysterious plane crash in Tehran Wednesday involving a Ukraine passenger jet (Boeing 737-800) that killed 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations.

The plane crashed hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers. 

To compound the matter, Ukrainian and Iranian authorities gave no indication the plane crash and the missile attack are related although investigation as to the cause of the air mishap was still ongoing.

Some aviation observers continued to be skeptical even after Iranian officials pointed to the possibility of engine failure.

It was immediately reported that in most major airline crashed around the world, U.S. officials participate in the investigation. It was now unclear whether U.S. officials would be allowed to follow the standard procedures given the recent missile attack.


Observers pointed out that the U.S.—despite President Trump’s boasts that Americans are safer with Soleimani gone—seems to have come out of the conflict in a worse geopolitical position. 

Iran has reportedly wriggled out of the last constraints of the Obama-era nuclear deal, raising fears of a possible race to an atomic weapon within months.

The US now seems far closer to being forced out of Iraq after striking Soleimani on Iraqi soil, in an insult to Iraqi sovereignty, says analyst Stephen Collison. 

Trump compounded the damage by threatening to sanction the star-crossed nation invaded by US-led troops in 2003 if American forces are kicked out, he explained.

Any US departure from Iraq would hamper the fight against extremism and hand a prize to Baghdad’s bigger, more powerful neighbor. 

For reasons of military logistics, it would likely force the US to abandon the remnants of its fight against ISIS in Syria.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on January 9, 2020 in Uncategorized