Fake calls overwhelm PH emergency hotline

In 2012 alone, over two million prank calls are received through the government emergency hotline

FAILURE? 96% of the calls received through Patrol 117 are prank calls. Wikimedia Commons/Adrian Biblanias

MANILA, Philippines – In 2012 alone, over two million prank calls were received by the government emergency hotline, Patrol 117.

This represents 96% of the total volume of calls received. 

In a report released by the Commission on Audit (COA) on Friday, September 27, the independent commission confirmed previous pronouncements that the Patrol 117 project is a failure.

Patrol 117 is supervised by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and was set up in 2002. The agency said very little can be done in the absence of any punitive mechanism on prank callers.

According to the report, the “lack of preventive maintenance” and “obsolete hardware” has also caused frequent system breakdowns.

Review the project

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas admitted that the project is “not an effective tool” for crime prevention.

“There is an ongoing process of review spearheaded by the National Police Commission to reconfigure Patrol 117 so that it will become effective… While the government has 117, Davao has 911, and every locality has own emergency numbers. We really want to fix this,” said Roxas.

For Sen Grace Poe, a comprehensive review of the system may be able to salvage its supposed benefits.

“We really need to strengthen Patrol 117 and we have to centralize this so that concerns will be routed to the proper precincts. It is a legacy that we can leave,” said Poe. 

Present system

In Metro Manila, only 16 calls can be accommodated by Patrol 117 at any given time. Throughout the year, the Metro Manila desk reported only 28 successful cases.

Patrol 117-Metro Manila has a budget of P19.411 million for the year.

The COA report cited instances when a crime report failed to reach the nearest police station, as there were no available phone lines or officers on duty past midnight.

Requests for medical advise or first aid were not immediately handled during the call, as there were no doctors or medical personnel in the call center. 

The media was also cited for their failure to mention Patrol 117 in reports or cases where the hotline could be helpful for quick responses to crisis situations. – Rappler.com

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