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Casiño hits Sec. Lacierda for being insensitive to stranded commuters and victims of floods
Palace should mark as urgent the Free Mobile Alerts Act

News Release
July 31, 2012

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño today called as insensitive and arrogant Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda for saying that: “If you were stranded in some flooded part of the city on Sunday night, that’s your fault. You probably did not monitor weather advisories from government agencies on Twitter or listen to the radio.”

The rains dumped by Tropical Storm “Gener” (international name: Saola) across the country flooded communities, swelled rivers, triggered landslides, damaged crops and roads, cancelled domestic flights and suspended classes as it moved toward northern Luzon.

“Wag na niyang sisihin ang mga tao dahil tungkulin ng gobyerno na bigyan sila ng babala sa lahat ng possibleng paraan at di lang sa Twitter. Tayo na nga ang biktima tayo pa sinisisi,” said Casiño.

The lawmaker said that the current problem in the early warning system during calamities and the hit or miss in suspension of classes would be prevented if House Bill 5660 or the Free Mobile Alerts Act is classified urgent and immediately enacted.

The bill requires government agencies to facilitate the sending out of free mobile alerts, with telecom firms serving as tools for public information. In the event of an impending tropical storm, typhoon, floods, tsunami, or other calamities, mobile phone service providers are mandated to send out alerts at regular intervals as required by National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and other relevant agencies.

“With the bill approved, it will be clear that it is both the government and the telecom companies’ duty to send out free mobile alerts at the earliest time possible,” said the progressive lawmaker.

He added that the alerts shall consist of up-to-date information from relevant agencies and shall be sent directly to the mobile phone subscribers located near and within the affected areas. The alerts shall include contact information of local government units and other agencies required to respond to the situation. The alerts may contain other significant information, such as, but not limited to, evacuation areas, relief sites and pick-up points.

The alerts, shall be at no cost, whether direct or indirect, 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, as needed and appropriate. Also included in the bill are penalties for not sending out the alerts or sending out false information,” he explained.

“We hope that this bill will stop or at least minimize disasters, mishaps and inconveniences from occurring. Hopefully, it will help save lives,” ended Casiño. # # #

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