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Free 911 calls; no pranks, please.

Mobile subscribers can now call 911 for free but Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano warned pranksters they would be penalized if they misuse the emergency hotline.

According to Ano, calling the emergency 911 hotline would be free of charge initially for Smart, Talk N' Text, Sun mobile and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) subscribers.

In a statement on Thursday the interior secretary advised the public, 'Do not hesitate to dial 911 in an emergency. We will not let the lack of mobile credit get in the way of saving lives as every second is important during emergency situations.'

Fraudulent calls

'Calling hotline 911 is free for PLDT and the three mobile networks but that does not mean that we can use it for pranks. Prank and fraudulent calls are punishable under the law,' Ano said.

Under Presidential Decree No. 1727, pranks, which include spreading false or malicious information, are punishable. Pranksters face jail time of not more than five years or a fine of not more than P40,000, the interior secretary added.

Based on data from the Emergency 911 National Office, some 15.29 percent of calls received from January to June 2019 were either fraudulent or made by pranksters. On average, there are some 3,500 emergency calls received monthly, with about 100 legitimate emergency calls daily.


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Hotline 8888

Ano noted that hotline 8888 had the same problem, saying, 'I hope people realize that (hotlines 911 and 8888) are for public service purposes, hence, intentionally calling them to trick or fool someone is getting in the way of service delivery and, ultimately, of saving lives.'

The official thanked PLDT and its three mobile network companies for complying with Executive Order No. 56 which sets up the 911 hotline and provides that all calls to the emergency number be free of charge.

'Free Hotline 911 calls from PLDT and its mobile network companies is a welcome development and a great service to our fellow Filipinos,' Ano said, adding that he hopes other telecommunications companies would follow suit.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 9, 2019
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