THE principal author of Free Mobile Disasters Alerts Act in the House of Representatives on Monday called on residents, local government units and people’s organizations in areas hit by Typhoon ‘‘Nina’’—especially the Bicol region, Eastern Visayas and Southern Tagalog —to remain alert and vigilant so that casualties would be minimized or avoided.
At the same time, Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate urged telecommunications companies to perform their “civic duty” to send out mobile disaster alerts especially in areas hit by the typhoon or those under storm signals.
“The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the telcos should extensively implement Republic Act 10639 unlike what happened last October during Super Typhoon ‘‘Lawin’’ that only a handful received text alerts in the areas affected,” Zarate said.
Zarate is one of the principal authors of Republic Act 10639 or the Free Mobile Disasters Alerts Act at the Lower House.
He also earlier filed House Resolution 556 to investigate the implementation of the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act following complaints the law has yet to be fully implemented for failure of concerned government agencies to get through with the implementing rules and regulations to guide the telecommunications companies in executing the law.
RA 10639 or the Free Mobile Disasters Alerts Act was signed into law on June 20, 2014 by then President Benigno Aquino III.
The Department of Transportation and Communications, National Telecommunications Commission, National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration are the lead agencies tasked to to draft the IRR within 60 days from the effectivity of the act.
RA 10639 provides that 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,” Zarate said.
He added telecommunications companies shall 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,” he said.