911, 8888 calls will be free of charge – DILG

  • The announcement of the P5 charge on top of regular call fees on the 911 and 8888 numbers drew flak from the public
  • DILG assured that it will be made free of charge as soon as a new Executive Order has been issued
  • During the transition period, the existing fees will still be implemented

Following the criticisms over the announcement that telecommunication companies will charge P5 on top of regular voice call charges for calls made to the 911 and 8888 numbers, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) addressed the issue and assured that calling the hotlines will be free of charge — eventually.

The DILG is drafting a new Executive Order (EO) that will make this service free for all and is working out on a deal with private telcos for the government to shoulder the expense.

DILG stated that it is also “the wish of the President to make the ‘911’ emergency calls free to the public.”

Telco giants PLDT and Smart told GMA News that once the EO is ready, they will be “willing to comply” and make the hotline numbers free.

“If the government will instruct us to make it free, no problem,” PLDT-Smart Public Affairs head Ramon Isberto said.

Isberto explained that making the emergency calls free of charge will contribute to the increase of prank calls, as per an article published by InterAksyon. Prank calls is one of the main problems in putting hotlines in place.

He shared that PLDT met with DILG to discuss how prank calls can be avoided.

According to Isberto, the majority of the calls received in the previous emergency hotline 117, which was provided free for both landline and mobile access, were prank calls.

“People think it’s about the money,” he said. “What if someone in need dials 911 and yet he/she can’t access the hotline because there are many prank callers in the line or trying to access it at the same time?”

DILG said that during the transition period, the existing fees will remain in place until a new EO has been issued to implement rules and serve as a memorandum of agreement between the government and telecommunication companies with regards to the call charges.