As part of the security measures for the Pope, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered telecommunications companies to switch off cellular network coverage at certain times that coincided with the papal events in Metro Manila.
“Signal jammer can be a serious inconvenience for mobile phone users, especially in emergencies,” said Terry Ridon, party leader Rep. Von Kabataan, in a statement on Saturday.
On Friday, Sun and Smart subscribers complained about the missing signal in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.
Telcos Sun, Globe and Smart argued that turning off cellular coverage was an NTC policy as part of security measures for Pope Francis’ state and apostolic visit.
The security of the Pope
Cell phone jammer has been expanded to ensure that mobile networks are not used to threaten the Pope’s security, said Interior Minister Manuel Roxas II.
“Hindi naman buong Metro Manila ang orihinal na layunin … Ang tatanggalan lang sana ng signal ay ‘yung area kung nasaan si Pope … Pero science and technology dictate us na kahit a bar na signal ay kayang mag-trigger” Interior Minister Manuel Roxas II said on Friday.
Cell phones were used to remotely fire explosives.
Ridon said, however, that “signal interference only does more harm than good”, which contradicts the government’s goal.
“What if, for example, family members are separated during the big meeting in Luneta this Sunday? What if emergency situations arise? How will people communicate with each other?
“The Filipino people certainly want the Pope to be safe while visiting here in the Philippines, and we understand whether certain security measures are in place.
“However, we believe that the government should not go so far as to interfere with cell phone signals. Communication is an integral part of public security. Cutting off telephone lines can do more harm than good,” added Ridon.
Marnie Tonson, legal advisor to the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA), said that government overreach in the civil service can and should be “brought to justice” by telecommunications companies because it happened at a time of peace, not during civil unrest or War.
“If it is a government regulation, not an inquiry, it is a direct government intervention in the private sector. Telecommunications companies are not government agencies, but public utilities. Under the law, telecommunications companies receive franchise contracts to function that serves the public. ” “Like water companies, transportation companies,” he said in a separate statement.
“For example, a government shutdown places responsibility for responding to interventions directly on the shoulders of the government. A” government inquiry “is a gray area where telecommunications for refusing to serve under the flimsy argument” they ” should have answered the request, “he said.
“The general rule is that any massive use of technology is prohibited except in times of war. Nuclear weapons, warships, biological weapons – these are controlled (or should be controlled) by a nation ‘s Department of Defense precisely because they are the hammer of war Cyber age is that communication technology has also become a hammer of war, “added Tonson.
Telecommunications company to refund subscribers?
The lack of a cellular signal has impacted the public, but there is still no decision whether to reimburse telecommunications companies, said Yoly Crisanto, senior vice president of corporate communications at Globe Telecom Inc., in a text message to GMA News Online on Saturday.
“We will inform our customers and update them if there are any developments,” she added.
Officials from Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), the parent company of Smart Communications Inc. and Sun Celluar operator Digitel Telecommunications Philippines Inc., have not yet commented on the matter.
In a text recommendation late Friday, Globe informed subscribers that the temporary closure was in accordance with a government regulation.
“Hello, you may have experienced a temporary loss of wireless signal and internet connection, particularly in part of Pope Francis’ itinerary. This was done for security reasons in accordance with the government’s policy,” it said.