Comelec: The use of emergency alerts for Marcos’ “misguided” political campaign
Several emergency mobile alerts from an unknown sender carrying a campaign message from Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. were broadcast on Wednesday as he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for president in the 2022 national elections.
Marked as a “serious” emergency alert, it said:
Buong Buo and Malasakit in Bansa.
Buong Buhay and Maialay in the bayan.
Bagongs bukas na Masagana for the greatest number.
Babangon muli ang pilipinas (V)
BBM in bansa, BBM in tayong bayan, BBM in Masa ..
BBM Philippines !!!
Mark Timbal, head of public affairs at the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), confirmed receiving information about the alleged emergency warning, but denied that it came from the National Management Board for Risk Reduction. disaster (NDRRMC).
He said the only emergency notifications issued by the NDRRMC, which reports to the OCD, on Wednesday were rain warnings regarding the current weather disturbances.
“We have received information about an alleged emergency warning received by some people in a particular location about a certain personality. We would like to clarify that the NDRRMC does not issue this type of message for distribution to the public through our Telco partners, ”Timbal said in a statement.
James Jimenez, spokesperson for the Electoral Commission (COMELEC), said that although electoral laws do not specifically penalize this mode of political campaigning, the practice is “ill-advised”.
“[T]The use of the emergency alert system for political propaganda is misguided at best. Whether criminal liability will attach to those behind this decision will have to be determined by the appropriate government agencies, ”he said.
VERA Files has contacted Marcos’ public relations office but has yet to receive a response.
Republic Law (RA) 10639, or the Free Mobile Disaster Alert Law, requires that “warning messages should be hazard-specific, time-limited, and area-specific,” according to Timbal, who is also the spokesperson for NDRRMC.
“The emergency notifications issued today by the NDRRMC are only for rain warnings due to current weather disturbances and nothing else,” he added.
Under the rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 10639 of July 21, 2015, emergency alert and warning messages can only come from the NDRRMC operations center.
The NDRRMC and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) are solely responsible for monitoring, regulating and managing alerts, which cover “up-to-date information, contact details for local government units and other agencies necessary to respond to the situation. ”
Other relevant information could include evacuation centers, relief sites and collection points, storm warnings, tsunami warnings, evacuation guidelines and instructions for disaster management services.
“We are consulting our counterparts at TELCO regarding this incident and so far they have informed us that such a message is not coming from them,” said Timbal.
An ABS-CBN report quoted the NTC as saying the controversial emergency message “likely came from illegally exploited cell cell sites,” but pointed out that it was still under investigation by its branch of regulations.
In IRR, only the following agencies can provide warning messages:
- Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS)
- Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)
- Philippine Institute for Nuclear Research (PNRI)
- Bureau of Mines and Geosciences (MGB)
- Office of Fire Protection (BFP)
- Philippine National Police (PNP)
- Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
- Ministry of Health (DOH)
- Philippine News Agency (PIA)
- Presidential Office of Communications Operations (PCOO)
Anyone who gives “false or misleading or intentionally grossly negligent data or information, conceals or falsifies an important fact” can be sentenced to two to six months in prison and pay a fine of up to P 10,000. , as indicated in the TRI.
When asked if the said message, which was tagged as a “serious” emergency alert, counted as a violation, Timbal told VERA Files in a text message that “it is possible, but we will refer to it. relevant regulatory bodies “.
Marcos, only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has applied for the country’s highest government post within the framework of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP).
In 2016, he lost his candidacy for the vice-presidency to Leni Robredo, but lodged an unsuccessful protest to challenge the election results.