INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno yesterday said the initial day of operation of the new national emergency hotline was ‘generally successful’ despite the huge number of prank callers who kept dialing 911.
“Judging from the huge volume of calls received by 911 for the first 24 hours of operation, we can say that the public is now aware that help is within reach through 911. We definitely had a good start,” Sueno said.
The first 911 call received by the ‘national 911 center’ came in at 12:06 a.m. from Antipolo City requesting for an ambulance service.
Yesterday, over 33,000 calls were received by the 911 operation center, which is almost a 1,000 percent increase from the 3,500 daily average of calls received by the previous 117 hotline center.
From a meager 15-seater call center emergency hotline operation, the 911 operation center has doubled its capacity to a 30-seat nationwide disaster hotline center.
The DILG secretary reiterated his earlier appeal to the public to stop testing 911 because in every attempt to dial the number without the real intention to seek emergency assistance, one or more lives are put at risk.
“Anyone who dials 911 will be accepted and registered in the 911 system. However, due to increased volume in calls, particularly prank calls, we were not able to respond accordingly to such emergencies because our system has been clogged,” he said.
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary Jesus V. Hinlo, Jr. said the department has already submitted a draft Executive Order to be reviewed by the DILG secretary for the Office of the President.
In the draft EO, Hinlo suggested that a sanction should be imposed on prank callers as an attempt to discourage other and future hoax callers who will play with the emergency hotline.
The draft EO originally seeks to amend the existing Executive Order No. 226 which allowed the operation of the old emergency hotline 117 under the administration of the Patrol 117 Commission.
The said EO would also set the tone for the new memorandum of agreement that would be entered into by the DILG, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Foundation for Crime Prevention (FCP), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, Philippine Association of Private Telephone Companies, ABS-CBN Convergence, Bayan Telecommunications, Inc., Digitel Telecommunications Philippines, Inc., Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc., Globe Telecom, Inc., Innove Communications, Inc., Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), Smart Communications, Inc. and e-PLDT.