Government calls on LGUs to establish 911 emergency call centers

With the recent signing of an executive order institutionalizing 911 as the country’s national emergency hotline number, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano assures the public of improved emergency assistance services related to crime prevention, public order, and public safety.

“We welcome President Duterte’s signing of Executive Order No. 56 because this reinforces the administration’s efforts to better serve the public by providing them prompt and efficient assistance in times of emergencies through hotline 911,” says Ano.

He also enjoins government agencies and LGUs providing emergency aid to immediate link their systems to 911 to make it the lone emergency hotline number.

“Let us not confuse the public with many hotline numbers. As directed by the President, let 911 be the sole number for emergency assistance,” he says.

The DILG chief also called on private communication carriers and telecommunication companies to provide uninterrupted connectivity and integration of calls made by their subscribers to the emergency hotline.

Executive Order No. 56 signed by the President last May 25, 2018 institutionalizes the emergency 911 hotline as the nationwide emergency answering system, replacing Patrol 117.

Under the EO, the DILG Secretary shall serve as Chairperson of the Emergency 911 Commission that will serve as the policy making body and overseer of the emergency national program, with the Secretary of the Department of Information and Communication Technology as Vice-Chairperson.

With the signing of the directive, Ano encourages local government units (LGUs) to set up and operationalize local 911 call centers within their areas that will be under the overall supervision of the National Call Center.

To date, there are eight emergency call centers all over the Philippines with 169 manpower complement who are handling the 911 emergency calls. The largest emergency call center in Metro Manila with 74 manpower and one in Cebu with 22 manpower. Both are managed by the DILG. There is also the 911 system in Davao City that was established by the President when he was still mayor.

The remaining six emergency call centers are managed by the local government units (LGUs). These are located in Bataan with six manpower; Tarlac with seven manpower; Ilocos Norte with 11 manpower; La Union with 13 manpower; Puerto Princesa with 22 manpower; and Paranaque City with 14 manpower.

“Help should be within the reach of every Filipino in dire situations even in the farthest cities and towns. Local governments should therefore prioritize the setting up of their local 911 call centers to assure immediste emergency aid,” he says.

The DILG Chief likewise cautions the public against making fraudulent, hoax and prank reports to 911 as they will be dealt with in accordance with law.

“Hotline 911 should serve its purpose of connecting the first responders with the people who need them. Let us therefore not clog the 911 lines with prank calls as legitimate callers who really need assistance will not be able to get through,” Ano says.

Among the primary service responders are the Bureau of Fire Protection for fire suppression operations, emergency medical and rescue services, hazardous materials protection, and technical search and rescue services; and the Philippine National Police for public safety and crime prevention.

The major support service responders are the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, local government units, and accredited non-government organizations, hospitals, public safety volunteers, and other institutions.

Among the notable rescue operations coursed through the 911 hotline calls are the Manila Pavilion Fire on March 18; vehicular accident in National Road, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro where 36 victims were immediately brought to Sabalayn North Hospital; and maritime rescue assistance to seven passengers of a motor banca which capsized in Logbon Island, Romblon, Romblon. DILG