911 emergency hotline available to public starting August 1

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — In times of emergencies, most people are unaware of what number to call for help.  But come August 1, 911 will officially be the national emergency hotline.

This is one of President Rodrigo Duterte's measures to fight crime and corruption in three to six months.

Officials said the implementation of the new hotline was derived from Davao City's Central 911. The city's emergency hotline provides medical, fire, rescue, police assistance as well as K-9 units.

“By August within a month, the Cebu 911 center will be made operational. I think there are other LGUs (local government units) that will be putting up their own command center[s],” National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said.

According to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the 911 nationwide hotline will connect the caller to emergency, rescue, police, or fire services.

All calls to 911 will also be rerouted to the existing Patrol 117 program.

Talks are underway as to what else will be added.

“Later on kasama na dito yung mga CCTV na magmomonitor ng mga public places,” DILG Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo Jr. said. [CCTVs which can monitor public places will be included later on.]

Hinlo added, one does not have to dial an area code and 911 will be implemented for the entire country. But changes will be implemented gradually.

May transition phase po. Pag nagdial po kayo ng 117… papasok pa din po sa emergency [hotline].” [There’s a transition phase. If you dial 117, the call will still enter the emergency hotline.]

Senator Richard Gordon, who is also the Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said it takes about eight minutes to arrive on the scene, depending on how far they are.

According to Gordon, the organization receives two to four calls per day from 117.

Davao City medical responders said they should be deployed to the site of the emergency in less than 59 seconds.

Authorities admit, with the new hotline comes some challenges like traffic and prank callers. Gordon said legislators would review if there’s a need to pass a bill to impose penalties on prank callers.

Officials, meantime, are appealing to the public not to make prank calls as this would deprive others who are really in need of immediate attention.

Telecommunications and digital services provider PLDT, together with subsidiaries Smart and ePLDT, said they shall fully cooperate with the government for a nationwide emergency hotline, 911.

While Globe Telecom said they would charge P5 per call to the hotline.

Telecommunications companies, however, are asking for patience as they put “more improvements” within the year.

They also requested the President to issue a new Executive Order transferring the authority of the current Patrol “117” Commission to a new legal entity to handle the “911” system.

Watch: How Davao City's 911 works