Senate wants mobile phones to warn Filipinos of incoming Disasters
The Senate committee on public service had released on Monday its revisions of the proposed House Bill No 353 which orders telecommunications providers to send free alerts about natural or man-made disasters.
Among the revisions to the bill include Senate President Franklin Drilon’s proposal to fine telecom firms up to a staggering Php10m if they fail or refuse to follow the order.
The senate president said that efficient systems of early warning on typhoons, floods, earthquakes and other disasters is vital to the Philippines, especially after being ranked third most disaster-prone country in the world.
He added that passing disaster alerts through mobile phones is an efficient tool since many Filipinos own mobile phones. According to a study by the Business Monitor International (BMI), the Philippines would hit 117 million mobile subscribers by 2016.
The effectiveness of mobile phones for disaster coordination is also unquestionable. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies had lauded the Philippine’s use of mobile phone Internet as a way to respond to disasters in their 2013 World Disasters Report. Extending the same power to the more accessible short message service (SMS) technology makes mobile phones a more potent tool for disaster preparedness.
Drilon said that the bill ‘would help achieve the main objectives of disaster preparedness which are to lessen the impact of the typhoon and ultimately save lives.’
House Bill No 353 was filed by Bayan Muna party representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate last year. The bill has already been endorsed for plenary discussions, and Drilon is optimistic it will be passed by the Senate before the Lenten break.