MANILA, Philippines – In his first liturgical service at the Manila Cathedral on Friday, January 16, Pope Francis pushed for openness to “share the joy and enthusiasm of…love for Christ and the Church with everyone.”
A means to “proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message,” he said in his homily Friday, is through “developments in travel and communications technology,” which he previously cited in his address to the 48th World Communications Day in June 2014.
Specifically, Pope Francis said in that message last year that “the Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.”
And as the social media savvy Filipinos eagerly followed the Pope, a majority of Catholic Filipinos relied on television or livestreams of the papal visit. They also expressed their admiration and shared their messages and thoughts about Pope Francis through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
All these, however, would not be possible without a reliable network connection, powered by dominant carriers Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (the parent company of Smart, Sun Cellular, and Talk N’ Text); and Globe Telecommunications Inc.
The telecommunications companies earlier asked for the public’s understanding if they experience disrupted signals or no data coverage in areas where Pope Francis was scheduled to hold public events, or where his convoy was supposed to pass.
Public reactions were mixed as even areas far from the papal events experienced signal disruptions.
The public understands, but …
While the netizens said they understand the disrupted services as being for the safety of the Pope and the general public attending the papal events, it would have helped if this was communicated to them earlier.
Allan Francisco Jesalva, executive officer at the University of Asia and the Pacific said his Smart mobile and broadband signals were lost around 7 am on Friday, January 16, but were restored around noon.
“Understandable if they have to jam signal but [they should have] at least advised us an hour before or so. But nothing! I had to call Smart hotline to get the information,” Jesalva said in a Facebook response to Rappler.
Jesa De Vera, graphic specialist from IBM Global Process Services and from Malabon, said her Sun Cellular network lost signal starting around 7 am as well. It was restored intermittently around 1:30 pm Friday. Access to Globe Telecom was also slow.
But Thet Mesias, corporate branding and communications officer at Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc, said both Smart and Globe had intermittent service between 4 to 5 pm Thursday, January 15, at the Bonifacio Global City area. This continued for Smart Friday morning from 8 am to 11:30 am.
“While it’s very understandable, these providers could have warned the public beforehand. Are these temporary interruptions contained in certain areas only?” Mesias asked.
When informed about the circumstances surrounding the disruptions, and asked if they received the telcos’ prior advisories, both Jesalva and Mesias said they did not.
“I don’t know when (or where) they sent the advisory but I’m sure I didn’t get any. I don’t turn off my phone even at night,” Jesalva said.
“I only got the advisory when the signal came back. I didn’t get any prior advisory,” Mesias said.
Sorry for the inconvenience
Other netizens reached out to customer service accounts of Smart and Globe on Twitter to complain, and telco representatives were apologetic about the inconvenience:
@YanyanOfGlobe its difficult for us who have business to communicate
— Kaile (@TRESEdesigns) January 16, 2015
@TRESEdesigns This is done for security reasons in compliance with the government’s directive. We hope for your u… http://t.co/c19pvmeXr4
— Kris of Globe (@KrisOfGlobe) January 16, 2015
@SMARTCares what government agency? can you show the directive in black and white?
— Iwo Regaton (@masteriwo) January 16, 2015
@masteriwo Hi Iwo. As far as we know, we are complying with government orders. Hope this clarifies. Thank you.
— Smart Communications (@SMARTCares) January 16, 2015
Others called on fellow subscribers to be more understanding:
Dear Globe and Smart users experiencing signal problems. The Pope is here. A lil brains and understanding will do. #KThanksBye
— MIKE FOZ (@iMikeFoz) January 16, 2015
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said the disruptions would continue until the Pope’s departure on Monday, January 19.
The public is also encouraged to use alternative modes of communication, especially when attending the papal events. (READ: Rappler and FireChat partner for papal visit)
What do you think of these measures to ensure the safety of Pope Francis and the public? Share your thoughts in the comments section!. – Rappler.com
Join Rappler in a 100-day countdown to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines: a journey from the Vatican to Tacloban. Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PopeFrancisPH!
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