When the 911 emergency hotline was launched this week, the hotline received 2,475 calls in its first seven hours. At least 1,356 were prank calls, and 304 of them were confirmed as such.
This is problematic, because if more than half of the calls are just pranksters, people with real emergencies won’t be able to get through. This sentiment was echoed by Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
He also confirmed that the hotline is tracing the calls to reveal the prankster and arrest them. And it’s the law.
Presidential Decree No. 1727, s. 1980 declares that “the malicious dissemination of false information” is unlawful. It further states:
Any person who, by word of mouth or through the use of the mail, telephone, telegraph, printed materials and other instrument or means of communication, willfully makes any threat or maliciously conveys, communicates, transmits, imparts, passes on, or otherwise disseminates false information, knowing the same to be false, concerning an attempt or alleged attempt being made to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual or unlawfully to damage or destroy any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property, by means of explosives, incendiary devices, and other destructive forces of similar nature or characteristics.
While the presidential decree expressly states that it concerns itself with threats, there is still the possibility that it could be applied for prank calls on pleas for help.
If found guilty, the decree states that “the offender shall be arrested by means of an Arrest, Search and Seizure Order (ASSO) and shall not be entitled to bail pending trial by the military tribunals or military courts which shall have exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving any violation of the provisions of this decree.”
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