NDRRMC coordinates with NTC, telcos to probe pro-Marcos mobile disaster alerts

Published October 6, 2021, 3:35 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is coordinating with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and its partner-telecommunication companies to look into the alleged use of mobile disaster alerts to push the 2022 presidential candidacy of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)

The emergency warnings, often issued by the NDRRMC to its partner telcos during times of disaster or calamities such as typhoons and earthquakes, were received by select individuals after Marcos filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) at the Sofitel Tent in Pasay City on Wednesday morning, Oct 6.

“Emergency Alert: Buong Buo ang Malasakit sa Bansa. Buong buo ang Maialay sa taong bayan. Bagong bukas na Masagana para sa masa. Babangon Muli and Pilipinas. BBM sa bansa, BBM sa taong bayan, BBM sa masa, BBM Pilipinas! (Emergency Alert: Complete concern for the country. Complete service to the public. New prosperous day for the mass. The Philippines will rise again. BBM for the country, BBM for the people, BBM for the mass, BBM Philippines!)” the mobile alert read, which was received even by some journalists covering the sixth day of the filing of COC.

(Photo courtesy of Jeff Gallos Tumbado)

However, the NDRRMC denied that the mobile alert pushing for the candidacy of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s son and namesake came from the government agency.

“We wish to clarify that the NDRRMC does not issue this type of messages for distribution to the public through our telco partners,” NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal told reporters.

He explained that the use of emergeny mobile alert system only follows the prescription of Republic Act 10639 or the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Law which requires that “warning messages must be hazard-specific, time-bound, and area-specific.”

Timbal said the NDRRMC issued mobile alerts on Wednesday but only about the rainfall warnings in certain areas due to the current weather disturbance.

“We are consulting with our telco counterparts about this incident and so far, they have informed us that such a message did not come from them,” the NDRRMC spokesperson bared.

“The NTC is a member of the NDRRMC and our operations center is already coordinating with our NTC counterparts about this matter,” he added.

Former Bayan Muna partylist representative Neri Colmenares, who authored the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Law, expressed worry about the use of government-managed alert system for the political bid of Marcos.

“As author of the text alerts law, I am concernced about this. Either the BBM [Bongbong Marcos’] camp uses the emergency SMS facility of the government or they are misrepresenting as an emergency alert what is clearly a political ad. It is a dismay that there are candidates like this,” he said.

The Marcos camp has yet to issue an explanation about the incident as of this writing.