Telcos commit to send free public safety text messages during calamities, disasters and emergencies

Government has forged a partnership with Digitel/Sun – Globe – PLDT/Smart to send free public safety advisories and text messages to their subscribers during calamities, disasters and emergencies. The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) through the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) has agreed on protocols that will be observed in validating information and in issuing such safety advisories and notices during calamities and disasters.

NTC issued Memorandum Order 06-04-2011, the Guidelines for Public Safety Broadcast of Text Messages during calamities and emergencies. During an inter-agency consultation meeting in Malaca?ang presided by PCOO Secretary Sonny Coloma, the PCOO/PIA, NTC, and NDRRMC together with the private sector defined their respective roles in implementing the Public Safety and Disaster Communication Guidelines to ensure that the public will be well informed during emergency situations.
During typhoons, floods, earthquakes, tsunami, other calamities and disasters, the NDRRMC has provided Hotline Numbers (911-1406 / 912-2665 / 912-5668) which the public can contact at any given time. NDRRMC will then alert the concerned government agencies on the report and transmit the information to PIA. Director-General Jose Fabia of PIA assured that the agency will serve as the “clearing house” to help NDRRMC validate the veracity of the information before it will craft the Government’s “OFFICIAL ADVISORY” and forward it to NTC.
In instances where the report/information is from a government agency (i.e. PAGASA, PHIVOLCS, PNRI, DOH, ETC.), Gen. Benito Ramos of NDRRMC said that the National Council together with the 42 other line agencies of government will validate the information and use their usual protocols to address the situation.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba emphasized that after receiving the notice/advisory from PIA, NTC will send the advisory to all TELCOS. Then, Digitel/SUN – GLOBE – PLDT/SMART will send the “OFFICIAL TEXT MESSAGE” to their subscribers. The Official Text Message will come from the number 1456.

Digitel/SUN, GLOBE, PLDT/SMART are fully committed to this partnership. During the consultation meeting last April 12, 2011 (Tuesday), the TELCOS expressed their willingness to be part of this endeavor to make sure that in times of calamities and emergencies, they can help government reach out and send the right information to as many Filipinos as possible. This is a public service that they are very much willing to do for their subscribers. It is crucial to assist government in sending accurate advisories and notices about impending disasters and calamities.

After the Japan earthquake and tsunami, the radiation scare, the New Zealand earthquake and all natural and man-made disasters that happened recently, it would be of great service to the public if government can provide an official, quick and accurate statement in times of calamities and disasters.

Secretary Coloma said that “in times of crisis, accurate information breeds confidence, and silence breeds fear. It is vital for government to give the correct advisories to the public to avoid panic over unverified statements and hoax messages.” Government is doing everything it can to reach more Filipinos whether through text messages, television, radio, and print media to ensure public safety in times of emergencies and calamities.