MILLIONS of mobile phone subscribers in the country could have benefitted from the law mandating all telecommunications companies to send free alerts during disasters had the government fully implemented it.
Republic Act 10639 or the Free Mobile Disasters Alerts Act (RA 10639) was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino 3rd on June 20, 2014. However, it has yet to be implemented because of the failure of concerned government agencies to finish the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that would guide the telecommunications companies in executing the law.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) were supposed to draft the IRR within sixty days from the effectivity of the act.
But according to, the IRR for RA 10639 is not yet available which means that the implementation of the law remains pending.
“There is no IRR yet. They are taking so long to craft it. When I filed the bill I thought it would be simple for them to implement,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, author of the bill, said in a text message.
Under the law, mobile phone service providers, in the event of an impending tropical storm, typhoon, tsunami, or other calamities, are mandated to send out alerts at regular intervals. The alerts, to be sent directly to mobile phone subscribers living near the affected areas, should consist of up-to-date information from the relevant agencies as well as contact information of local government units and other agencies required to respond to the situation.
The alerts may contain other relevant information such as, but not limited to, evacuation areas, relief sites and pick-up points.
Telecommunications companies will provide the alerts at no cost 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.
Sen. Grace Poe, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said in an earlier interview that the measure would help Filipinos prepare for disasters.
“The government can capitalize on wireless emergency alerts to warn and inform the public about local hazards since the Philippines is considered as the texting capital of the world,” Poe said.