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Grace Poe urges telcos to provide disaster alerts via text

Posted On 2014 Aug 08
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Office workers stand on top of a rolling scaffolding as they cross a flooded street at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Flooding caused by some of the Philippines' heaviest rains on record submerged more than half the capital Tuesday, turning roads into rivers and trapping tens of thousands of people in homes and shelters. The government suspended all work except rescues and disaster response for a second day. (MNS photo)

Office workers stand on top of a rolling scaffolding as they cross a flooded street at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Flooding caused by some of the Philippines’ heaviest rains on record submerged more than half the capital Tuesday, turning roads into rivers and trapping tens of thousands of people in homes and shelters. The government suspended all work except rescues and disaster response for a second day. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – On the onset of continues calamities, Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday urged telecommunications companies to implement Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act to warn Filipinos on incoming typhoon situation.

“One text alert can save thousands of lives,” said Poe, primary sponsor of Republic Act 10639 or the Free Mobile Disasters Alerts Act. “This prompt warning is indispensable in protecting our people,” , primary sponsor of Republic Act 10639 or the Free Mobile Disasters Alerts Act.

RA 10639, signed on June 20 by the President, requires mobile service providers, similar to other countries particularly in Japan, 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 shall contain up-to-date information from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other relevant agencies along with the contact details of local government agencies and the location of evacuation sites, if needed.

Any telecommunications company that fail 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 will be met with either imprisonment of not more than six months and a fine ranging from P1,000 to P10,000.

This measure will help Filipinos prepare for the constant barrage of disasters in the Philippines. At least 25 weather disturbances entered the Philippines in 2013 alone, including the devastating typhoon Yolanda (international name: “Haiyan”).

“Modern notification systems, such as mobile phone alerts, can be used to augment the existing system. 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,” Poe said. (MNS)

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