Casiño asks Palace to certify as urgent Free Mobile Alerts Bill

IN LIGHT of the massive devastation wrought by Typhoon Pablo, party list Rep. Teddy Casiño today called for massive relief efforts and urged Malacanang to certify as urgent House Bill 5660 or the Free Mobile Alerts Act which would mandate mobile phone companies to provide free text alerts to citizens in calamity-stricken areas.

Bayan Muna also cancelled its Christmas party so as to give more to the victims of Typhoon Pablo.

“It should be all hands on deck. Let us all work together to ensure that the flood victims are given immediate aid and support. We have asked our various Bayan Muna chapters in the affected areas to assess the needs of their communities and initiate relief efforts. We are also cancelling our Christmas party so that we can raise more materials for the relief operations,” Casiño said.

He announced that Bayan Muna is now accepting donations of rice, clothes, canned goods, medicine and other relief items at No.20 Marunong St. Brgy. Central Quezon City for distribution to various affected areas in Mindanao and the Visayas.

He said HB 5660, if enacted, would cure existing problems in the government’s early warning system during calamities.

The bill requires government agencies to facilitate the sending out of free mobile alerts, with telecom firms serving as tools for public information. 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 as required by 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.

“With the bill approved, 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,” said the progressive lawmaker.

He added that 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.

The alerts, shall be at no cost, whether direct or indirect, to the consumers; and shall be included as part of the service providers’ auxiliary service. The alerts may be in the form of SMS (text messages), MMS, or email, as needed and appropriate. Also included in the bill are penalties for not sending out the alerts or sending out false information,” he explained.

“We hope that this bill will stop or at least minimize disasters, mishaps and inconveniences from occurring. Hopefully, it will help save lives,” Casiño said.

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