News : Prank Calls Swamp 911 Hotline
Manila, Philippines, Aug 1, 2016 -- On the first day of the activation of the 911 hotline nationwide, there were more dropped and prank calls than there were calls for actual emergency assistance.
Seven hours after activation, the hotline had already received 2,475 phone calls, the Philippine National Police reported on Monday. Unfortunately, only 3 percent (75) were legitimate calls.
Forty-five percent (1,119) were dropped calls and 12 percent (304) were classified as prank calls. The rest of the calls were still being validated as of press time.
Another hotline, 8888 of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), was launched on Monday for complaints on erring government personnel, red tape or corruption. As of 5:30 p.m., it received 277 calls, or an average of 28 calls during the day.
Most of the callers complained about slow government service, while some inquired about assistance.
President Duterte earlier promised a hotline under the Office of the President for the public to phone in their complaints.
The CSC allocated 30 lines for complaints, with at most 15 call agents responding from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The hotline is open 24/7.
The hotline agents also received a few prank calls, according to the CSC contact center. The agency’s chair, Alicia Bala, had earlier asked the public to make only legitimate calls.
No less than PNP Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa has threatened prank callers with arrest.
"The 911 system is currently tracking the prank callers and we will make sure you will be unmasked and arrested," Dela Rosa said at a press briefing at PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
He appealed to the public "to refrain from making prank calls or test calls to our 911 hotline because this will clog up the lines and prevent people with real emergencies from reaching us."
So far, the legitimate calls involved requests for ambulances, reports on vehicular accidents and public disturbances, such as persons running amok, riots, drag racing and drinking in public places, as well as harassment and peddling narcotics.
For now, the 911 hotline is being manned by 45 police personnel, rendering it mostly as a police hotline for crimes or police-related emergencies, according to Dela Rosa.
Dela Rosa said the operators’ job mostly entailed coordinating with local police offices, which would then contact other emergency responders in their areas if need be.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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The Philippine National Police (Filipino: Pambansang Pulisya ng Pilipinas and abbreviated as PNP) is the civilian national police force of the Philippines.
Published: Tuesday, August 2, 2016