Poe pushes for implementation of law requiring free text alerts during calamities
MANILA, Philippines — Amid the onset of calamities during the rainy season, Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday urged the “meaningful” implementation of a law that requires mobile service providers to send free disaster warning alerts to their subscribers.
“One text alert can save thousands of lives. This prompt warning is indispensable in protecting our people,” said Poe, primary sponsor of Republic Act 10639 or the Free Mobile Disasters Alerts Act.
RA 10639, which was signed into law by the President on June 20, requires mobile service providers to send alerts at regular intervals in the event of an imminent disaster. The alerts will be free of cost (both to government and subscribers) and will be sent to mobile subscribers near and within the affected areas.
The law also provides that the alerts should contain up-to-date information from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and other relevant agencies along with the contact details of local government agencies and the location of evacuation sites, if needed.
Any telecommunications company, which fails to observe the law will be fined P1 million to P10 million and/or face suspension or revocation of its legislative franchise.
Spreading of false or misleading information is also prohibited by the law and would be met with either imprisonment of not more than six months and a fine ranging from P1,000 to P10,000.
Poe said the law would help Filipinos prepare for the barrage of disasters constantly battering the Philippines. At least 25 weather disturbances entered the Philippines in 2013 alone, including the devastating super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).
“Modern notification systems, such as mobile phone alerts, can be used to augment the existing system,” she said.
“The government can capitalize on wireless emergency alerts to warn and inform the public about local hazards since the Philippines is considered as the texting capital of the world,” the senator added.
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