The Philippine government has forged a partnership with the country’s three telecommunications firms — 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), have agreed on protocols that will be observed in validating information and in issuing such safety advisories and notices during calamities and disasters.
The NTC issued Memorandum Order 06-04-2011, otherwise known as the Guidelines for Public Safety Broadcast of Text Messages during Calamities and Emergencies. During an inter-agency consultation meeting in Malacañang 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 has assured that the agency will serve as the “clearing house” to help NDRRMC validate the veracity of submitted 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 12 April 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. The telcos unanimously believe that 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 have happened recently, it would be of great service to the public if government could 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.