Senate has passed a bill that obliges telecommunication companies to send free text alerts to subscribers in the course of a calamity or disaster.

Also known as the House Bill No. 353, the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act was unanimously approved by twenty senators; no senator abstained or gave a negative vote. The bill is designed to improve the awareness and response of Filipino citizens in an impending national disaster in the hopes of reducing property damages and saving precious lives. Subscribers that receive the warnings will not be charged.

Any telco that fail to send out free alert warnings will be fined up to Php10 million. While it was nice for Globe, Smart, and Sun Cellular to offer free local and international SMS to people affected by Yolanda, sending out text warnings before the storm made landfall would have minimized the destruction it wreaked.

Indeed, SMS technology is an efficient tool during disaster situations, given that many Filipinos own cellphones to send texts to family and friends on a daily basis. Our country, after all, is considered as the “texting capital of the world.”

[Source: GMA News]

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