8888 for government complaints: 911 hotline ready
(The Freeman) - August 1, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines – Starting today, a 24-hour hotline for citizen complaints and an emergency hotline are already accessible to all Filipinos.

However, for emergencies, a Cebu City councilor said with the emergency hotline system being new, it may be best to call the city's Command Center immediately for now. This is because the 911 system forwards the caller, instead of the information, to the right agency.

Telephone numbers 911 and 8888 are the national emergency and citizen complaint hotline numbers, respectively. The nationwide hotline is one of President Rodrigo Duterte's measures to fight crime and corruption in three to six months.

According to the Department of Interior and Local Government, the 911nationwide hotline will connect the caller to emergency, rescue, police, or fire services.

Earlier, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said all calls to 911 will also be rerouted to the existing Patrol 117 program while the 911 command center has yet to be established.

Telecommunications and digital services provider PLDT, together with subsidiaries Smart and ePLDT, promised to fully cooperate with the government for the nationwide emergency hotline, while Globe Telecom said they would charge P5 per call to the hotline.

DILG Ismael Sueño earlier said all calls to 911 and 117 will still be shouldered by the callers from August until a new MOA is signed by the agencies concerned and a new executive order is issued by Duterte.

When sought for comments, Provincial Board Member Sun Shimura, chairman of the Committee on Peace and Order, said he has reservations with the full-blown implementation of a nationwide emergency hotline 911, replacing 117.

Shimura clarified that although he is not against it, he said it could be subject to abuse.

He also said the 8888 hotline might be used as a tool to ruin a government employee's life, reputation or career by feeding wrong information.

The concerns or complaints of citizens will be relayed to the proper government agencies through the said hotline, where ordinary Filipinos can call in to report corrupt officials, underperforming government personnel, and unfinished government projects.

"I'm not objecting this. Uyon ko sa hotline for criminalities. Pero kaning for complaint, makulbaan pud ta oy for the employees of the government nga ma-terminate," he said.

He said safety nets must also be put in place.

"Kay basin matangtang lang kadtong maayong trabahante sa gobyerno without good reason," he added.

Shimura is appealing to the public not to make prank calls as this would deprive others who are really in need of immediate attention.

DILG Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo Jr. earlier said that there is a need to educate the Filipinos on the use 911 to avoid test and prank calls.

The emergency hotline 117 reportedly received an average of 57 hang and prank calls per hour last year.

With the launching and official operation of the new emergency hotline, the government expects a total of 2,730 hang and prank calls out of the anticipated 3,003 calls per hour.

PNP Ready

The PNP is ready for the implementation of the 911 hotline.

Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, regional director of Police Regional Office-7 said the concept of 911 hotline is that an operator can connect a caller with the agency he or she wants to reach.

"Like sa fire, if tatawag ka sa 911, the operator will connect you sa Bureau of Fire. Kahit anong concerns and emergencies pwede ka tumawag dito," he said, adding same goes with the police stations.

However, he said if the caller has the direct telephone or cellphone number to the BFP or police stations, they can directly call the number without dialing 911.

"Mas madali kung direct line... if you have the number," Taliño added.

Cebu City Police Office director, Senior Superintendent Joel Doria said they are also ready of the implementation of 911 hotline while Senior Superintendent Jose Macanas, provincial director of Cebu Provincial Police Office, said the implementation of the 911 hotline is a good idea since the one being implemented in Davao City is very effective.

"Ito yong ipinu-push ng present administration at yung police ay magko-complement nito," he said.

In cases of robbery for example, he said the caller can call 911 and the operator will contact the nearest police station where the incident took place.

"With this, iikli ang mundo ng mga kriminal," he said.

Call Command Center instead

After test dialing 911 yesterday evening, Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak said it took almost 4 to 5 minutes before the message was relayed to the local Command Center.

"Akong gi-orasan diri, it takes almost 2 minutes og mo-dial kag 911, Manila operator will answer your call, then they receive your emergency call, 911 will connect to Patrol 117 sa Region 7. Then human sa 117 it takes a few minutes, mo-connect napud sa Command Center diri sa Cebu City for dispatch. So approximately between 4 minutes to 5 minutes," he said.

Tumulak said that the caller will keep on repeating the message to the emergency hotline considering that it will relayed to another emergency hotline until it reaches the local command center.

With this, as the chairman of peace and order committee, he urged the Cebu City residents to directly call the city's Command Center for prompt response.

"Delayed response g'yud, this is an advice to the Cebu City residents. I would rather direct call sa Command Center diri sa Cebu City para maka-save og oras. Para ba nay immediate response ba. Can you imagine ikaw caller, mosulti paka sa imong nature, magbalik balik paka sa imong isulti," he added.

To further address this, Tumulak said he already drafted a resolution asking the DILG, Office of the Civil Defense, Office of the President, among others, to discuss the 911 system to educate the citizens.

"There should be a proper coordination among responders and the call takers which is the 911 because it takes time. Dili man gud na directly. If in case emergency if you wanted to respond directly dili ma-attach sa concerned agency, mura gihapon sila og call center," Tumulak said.

"So there should be more direct way g'yud unta nga tawag supposedly, mao raman gihapon na siya sa previous nga Patrol 117," he added.

The resolution of Tumulak will be discussed this Tuesday, in the regular council session.

The Cebu City Command Center has recorded 5,343 emergency calls from January to May this year, he said. — /BRP (FREEMAN)

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