Mobile disaster alerts should be free, solon insists
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares questioned the proposed Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Law for passing additional costs to mobile subscribers instead of sending free alerts in the face of impending calamities.
The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act requires all telecommunication companies to send out text or multimedia messages to all subscribers of the impending calamity, the required preparation, the address of the nearest evacuation centers and the location and schedule of relief distribution. In the event of an impending tropical storm, typhoon, floods, tsunami, or other calamities, mobile phone service providers are mandated to send out alerts at regular intervals issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and other relevant agencies.
Colmenares said the alerts shall consist of up-to-date information from relevant agencies and shall be sent directly to the mobile phone subscribers located near and within the affected areas. The alerts shall include contact information of local government units and other agencies required to respond to the situation. The alerts may contain other significant information, such as, but not limited to, evacuation areas, relief sites and pick-up points.
But Colmenares said, while the law which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III almost a year ago, requires that the alerts shall be free, the proposed IRR, requires the purchase of new SIM cards to get the free alerts.
“This is against the provision of the law which requires free alerts, meaning no costs direct or indirect to subscribers,” he said adding that they have consulted experts and pointed out that there is no need to buy new SIM cards to get free alerts.
“The major objective of the law is to save lives, not give Telcos an opportunity to earn more,” Colmenares said.
Colmenares immediate implementation of the law is needed especially with Typhoon Chedeng (international name: Maysak) is on its way to hit our country.
The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Law will also minimize misinformation as well as panic because this would be the official alerts of responsible government agencies concerned. This law will also penalize misinformation and pranksters for sending false information, especially those that causes panic. IDL
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