“Ill gotten airwaves.”
That was how the principal author of the law authorizing the use of the country’s mobile short messaging system to alert citizens of natural calamities likened the illegal use of the service to promote the presidential bid of losing vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos.
On Wednesday Oct 6, 2021, an emergency text alert was sent out to various mobile phone users pushing for the only son of the late dictator moments after he officially filed his candidacy for president.
“If Marcos indeed hijacked the airwaves to campaign then their greed to return to Malacanang by hook or by crook should really be stopped,” Makabayan senatorial bet and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares said in a statement.
Colmenares, the principal author of Republic Act No. 10639, or the The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act, said the law was never intended for any sort of political promotion, or political activity of any kind.
The law mandates mobile phone service providers to “send out alerts at regular intervals as required by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)”.
“If they indeed hijacked the Bayan Muna authored law for emergency alerts, then they should be investigated. When we authored the bill my intention was to help save lives. Not to be used for vested personal interest of politicians. Kung totoo ito, di lang ill gotten wealth ang kaso, ill-gotten airwaves din pala,” Colmenares added.
Bayan Muna Rep. and Deputy Minority Floor Leader Karlos Isagani Zarate said the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should be investigated.
“This casts serious doubt on the integrity of the system, which people are supposed to rely on for life-saving information. Aside from the NTC and the DITC, Congress should also probe this underhanded style of campaigning,” said Rep. Zarate.
The NDRRMC has denied that they had anything to do with the text message that was sent out.
“We wish to clarify that the NDRRMC does not issue this type of messages for distribution to the public through our telco partners,” NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said. -Joshua Tristan Montecillo