Philippines Passes Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act
Last June 20, 2014, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act No. 10639 otherwise known as the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act. Behind the enactment of this law is the State policy of protecting its citizenry in the event of natural or man-made disasters and calamities.
The main thrust of the law is to require mobile phone service provider or telecommunication companies to send out alerts in the event of an impending tropical storm, typhoon, tsunami or other calamity. The said alerts shall be sent directly to mobile phone subscribers who are located near and within the affected areas consisting of up-to-date information from the different agencies, contact information of local government agencies and other agencies. They may also contain other relevant information such as evacuation areas, relief sites and pick-up points. The alerts shall be sent at no cost to the recipient and will be sent at regular intervals as required by relevant government agencies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
To enforce the provisions under the statute, it also provides for penalties in case of violations of this Act, or in cases when a person gives false or misleading data, or willfully conceals or falsifies a material fact in cases when investigations are conducted pursuant to the statute. The penalties include imprisonment from two months to six months with fine, and payment of a fine ranging from PhP 1M to PhP 10M in cases where the offender is a corporation. Such corporation will also be subject to a suspension or the revocation of its legislative franchise and other permits and licenses issued by the National Telecommunications Commission. Aliens who are found to have violated the statute may also be deported after service of sentence.
As of now, however, the implementing rules and regulations of this Act are still yet to be issued. We look to the different government agencies, i.e., the Department of Transportation and Communications, the NTC, the NDRMMC, and the PAGASA, and other relevant agencies, to fine tune the regulations that will apply this law.
Download the full text of RA 10639