Activate free mobile disaster alert law amidst Hagupit – partylist urges govt

Dec. 06, 2014

DAVAO CITY – Bayan Muna Partylist wants government to enact one of the laws they authored that would provide mobile phone-users with alerts on calamities, floods and tsunami especially with the impending supertyphoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) hitting the country this Saturday.

Neri Colmenares, representative of Bayan Muna and Deputy Minority Floor Leader of the House of Representatives, said they authored the Republic Act No. 10639 or the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act as part of the country’s response in times of calamities; noting that most Filipinos have been using mobile cellular phones.

“The law was signed by President Aquino six months ago but until now it has not been implemented,” said Colmenares. “The immediate implementation of this law is needed considering that Typhoon Hagupit is on its way to the provinces hit by Yolanda last year. I hope the TELCOs are not dragging their foot in implementing this and will cooperate in its implementation.  This law can save lives if it is implemented now.”

Weather forecast by PAGASA showed Typhoon Ruby/ Hagupit is expected to hit the Philippines particularly in Eastern Samar on Saturdayevening or early Sunday morning.  The supertyphoon’s strength has decreased but its wind speed still packs at 196 kilometers per hour.

The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act requires telecommunication companies to send out text or multimedia messages alerts to all its subscribers on information and updates in calamities, disaster preparation and responses.

It requires phone companies to provide details of required preparation, address of evacuation areas, location and schedule of relief distribution.

In the event of calamities such as storms, floods, storm surge, earthquakes and tsunamis striking an area, phone companies must also send out alerts and updates such as contact information and location of government units and agencies that would responding to the situation such as relief sites, evacuation areas and rescue or pick-up points.

Colmenares said the alerts must sent out regularly issued advisories 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.

The congressman noted information is key as he pointed out in the past disasters such as Typhoons Yolanda and Pablo, there was lack of clear information that could have lessen the impact of the storms.

He also added that incidents of false information on calamities spread through mobile text messages or social media only led to confusion and panic among the public.

“We hope that this (act) will at least minimize casualties from disasters, mishaps and calamities. Hopefully, it will help save lives,”Colmenares said.

“With this law, it will be clear that it is both the government and the telecom companies’ duty to send out free mobile alerts at the earliest time possible. This will also aid in the preventive evacuation, identification of safe evacuation centers and advanced information of prepositioned relief provisions for evacuees,” said Colmenares.

The congressman said the alerts must be provided with no cost or charges, as he noted that the phone companies have been sending out free messages about their services. (

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