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'Emergency Alert' on Bongbong Marcos Campaign is Pushed to Mobile Phones

Comelec says it's an 'ill-advised' practice.
by Erwin Colcol
Just now

Some journalists covering the filing of certificates of candidacy were caught by surprise on Wednesday after receiving an "emergency alert" that read like an ad for former senator Bongbong Marcos, who filed his candidacy for president earlier in the day.

Marked "Emergency Alert: Severe", the message was sent to both Android and iPhone users with the full text: "Buong Buo and Malasakit sa Bansa. Buong Buhay and Maialay sa taong bayan. Bagong Bukas na Masagana para sa masa." 

It highlighted the BBM initials of the only son and namesake of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

"Babangon Muli ang Pilipinas (V) BBM sa bansa. BBM sa taong bayan, BBM sa Masa.. BBM Pilipinas!!! #BBM2022," it added, with a reference to the "victory" hand sign which has been closely associated with the Marcoses.


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According to reports, the emergency alert came while Marcos was in Sofitel to file his candidacy for president. His camp has yet to issue a statement on the incident.

The emergency alert caught the attention of the Commission on Elections, which called it "ill-advised".

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"It can be safely assumed that the emergency alert system operates under a set of guidelines, and it can be further assumed that such guidelines would prohibit the use of the emergency alert system for anything other than emergencies," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said.

"Needless to say, the use of the emergency alert system for political propaganda purposes is ill-advised, at best," he added.

Under the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act, telcos are mandated to send out alerts at regular intervals "in the event of an impending tropical storm, typhoon, tsunami, or other calamities."

As there is no penalty specifically for using emergency alerts for campaigning under current election laws, the criminal liability of those behind these alerts will have to be determined by concerned government agencies, Jimenez said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said it did not issue such an alert for public distribution nor did it come from their telco partners.

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"Our usage of the emergency mobile alerts system only follows the prescription of the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Law which requires that warning messages must be hazard-specific, time-bound and area-specific," said NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal.

The NDRRMC called on the National Telecommunications Commission to look into the incident.

"Our people can be assured that the NDRRMC reserves the use of its warning systems for their mandated purpose only, that is to provide proper and timely warning to our people regarding natural hazards," Timbal said.

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