Bill requires mobile phone firms to send free disaster alerts
MANILA, Philippines —Senate President Franklin Drilon is proposing up to P10 million fine for a telephone company that will fail or refuse to send free early warning alerts to its consumers or the government when there are natural and man-made disasters and calamities.
His proposal was among the amendments introduced by the Senate committee on public service when it endorsed Monday House Bill No. 353, which mandates telecommunication companies to send free mobile early warning alerts in the event of natural and man-made disasters and calamities.
Drilon said the Senate is supporting the passage of the bill, saying it “would help achieve the main objectives of disaster preparedness which are to lessen the impact of the typhoon and ultimately save lives.”
One of his proposed amendments in the bill is to penalize any telephone company which will fail or refuse to send out warning alerts, with a fine of P1 million to P10 million, or a revocation of its legislative franchise.
“Having been ranked as the third most disaster-prone country in the world, it is imperative for the Philippines to put up a mechanism to efficiently disseminate early warnings of typhoons,” the Senate leader said in a statement on Wednesday.
Drilon said the government should be able to employ the most efficient and fastest way in sending out alerts in the event of an impending calamity such as a tropical storm, tsunami or earthquake.
Under the bill, the alerts should consist of updated information from the relevant agencies, and should be sent directly to the mobile phone subscribers located near and within the affected areas.
Sending out alerts through mobile phones, Drilon said, could be the most efficient tool given the fact that the Philippines recorded the highest number of cellular phone users in the world.
Based on the Business Monitor International (BMI) study, the Philippines is expected to reach 117 million mobile subscribers by 2016.
“As the texting capital of the world, we can greatly use the instantaneous, flexible and reliable short message service (SMS) technology as a potent tool during disaster situations – one that is intimately understood and easily accessed by millions of Filipinos who have cellphones,” he said.
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