People to get free text and call services from telcos during calamities

Telecommunications companies are being asked to offer free text
messaging and calls services to their subscribers in times of
calamities and other natural disasters.

Rep. Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), author of House
Resolution 1845, appealed to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone
Company (PLDT), GLOBE Telecom, Digital Telecommunications Corporation
(Digitel) and Bayan Telecommunications Corporation (Bayantel) to give
the people access to free text messaging and call service in times of
emergencies.

“Free short messaging and call services would go a long way to
mitigate the adverse effects of any crisis, disaster, and calamity,
enabling better coordination in rescue and relief operations, saving
more lives, attending to the injured, and easing the pain brought
about by losses in crops, livestock, property and others,” Castelo
said.

Castelo said the business community particularly the private sector is
an integral part of the national disaster risk reduction and
management plan and program which the national government and local
government units jointly enforce during times of extreme crisis,
disaster and national and local emergencies.

“These major and minor telecommunications firms have provided
universal access, as shown by the provision of landline and wireless
services in 99 percent of the country’s land area,” Castelo said.

Castelo said the services of these major and minor telecommunications
firms are extremely vital during times of crisis, local and national
emergencies.

“In times of crisis and calamities, wireless service subscribers,
especially those in remote areas, have difficulties, if not limited
means, time, and opportunity to purchase loads which they use to
communicate to the outside world,” Castelo said.

“It is but right that these telecommunications firms have to return a
portion of their earnings to the communities they have been serving,”
he added.

Castelo said the private sector now engages in what has been described
as corporate social responsibility (CSR), where private companies use
a portion of their net profits to pursue ‘conscience projects’ or
those that help the poor.

Castelo said PLDT and Globe being the two biggest telecommunications
firms are prominent advocates of CSR, it being a part of their
respective corporate cultures, and that the two companies should make
his proposal a part of their respective corporate practice for them to
continue helping the poor and downtrodden.

“The government has limited resources and funds to meet and mitigate
natural and man-made disasters, which include typhoons, heavy
rainfall, landslides, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic
eruptions, lahar flows, extensive drought and mass pollution among
others,” Castelo added.

Castelo said the Philippines is vulnerable to an assortment of
uncontrolled disasters, which brings death and injury to thousands of
people, massive destruction to crops, property and untold misery to
the people.

“According to the Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary
Graciano Yumul studies showed that climate change could alter the
climatic dynamics, creating more weather disturbances to make the wet
season wetter and the dry season drier,” Castelo said.

Castelo said the global warming and the melting of the polar caps has
been creating havoc on this planet, as shown by studies depicting the
rise of seawater level and changes of climatic patterns with
unpredictable effects to result in immeasurable misery.

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