By August 1, people in emergencies should call 911, not 117, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.
To ensure that the 911 service is better than 117, DILG Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueno tested the new number.
Sueno called 911 twice using a landline and a cellular phone to find out how fast help can be dispatched.
The use of 911 as the new nationwide emergency hotline number was a result of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the DILG and telecommunications companies.
The transition from 117 to 911 was done after President Rodrigo Duterte said the emergency hotline should be “accessible to all Filipinos at any telephone beginning August 1.”
Under the old system, there were 15 seats, 43 call center agents, and a database of Philippine National Police (PNP) units including their mobile, local government units and emergency numbers and teleconference capability.
Under 911, there will be 30 seats and 90 call center agents, said retired General Eliseo Rio Jr., of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
Sueno said that while Duterte has instructed them to make 911 free of charge, all calls to 911 and 117 will be shouldered by the callers until a new memorandum of agreement has been signed by the agencies concerned and a new executive order has been issued by the chief executive.
Mon Isberto of PLDT-Smart Communications, who was present during the testing, said there should be more local units connected to 911 for faster response to emergencies.