Lawmaker wants emergency hotline prank callers penalized

Mara Cepeda
Lawmaker wants emergency hotline prank callers penalized
Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon files the Anti-Prank Caller Act after the 911 hotline received 1,119 dropped calls and 304 prank calls on its first day of implementation

MANILA, Philippines – Just a day after the activation of the 911 hotline, Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon filed a bill seeking to penalize prank callers of emergency hotlines in the country. 

Biazon filed House Bill (HB) Number 2323 or the Anti-Prank Caller Act on Tuesday, August 2.

In his explanatory note, Biazon said he filed the measure as a reaction to Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa’s report that of the 2,475 calls received by the 911 hotline on its first day of implementation, only 75 were “legitimate.”

The rest of the phone calls included 1,119 dropped calls and 304 prank calls. (READ: PH-wide 911: Birth pains, long-term dreams

The lawmaker is thus seeking the following penalties on prank callers:

  • First offense: One day up to 30 days in prison, and a P5,000 fine
  • Second offense: One month and one day up to 6 months in prison, and a P15,000 fine
  • Third offense: 6 months and one day up to 6 years in prison, and a P30,000 fine
  • Fourth and subsequent offenses: 6 years and one day up to 12 years in prison, and a P50,000 fine 

“This bill penalizes prank calling to protect the integrity and proper operation of emergency hotlines. These should not be burdened by irresponsible and senseless acts of mischief-makers for these to be able to relay the need for emergency services to the proper responders on time,” said Biazon.

“It is hoped that the stiff penalties provided under this proposed measure would discourage would-be offenders and make them think before committing such imprudent acts,” he added. 

Currently, callers are required to pay P5 to P5.50 per call made to the 911 hotline. (READ: Heeding gov’t, Globe to charge P5 for 911 calls)

But Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Office of the Executive Secretary is “already drafting the Executive Order,” which, among other things, will mandate that calls be free. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.