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NTC investigates use of emergency alert system for BBM campaign

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is investigating the illegal use of alert notification services that contained text messages favoring presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos because of its pitch for “BBM”. 

Marcos’ lawyer strongly denied having anything to do with the hijacking of the alert notification services, calling it as part of a continuing “demolition job” against him.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo V. Cabarios said the telcos have reported that the alert message did not originate from their networks. There was also no request that came from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Alert messages are for the exclusive use of the NDRRMC for disasters and emergencies.

“We are conducting an investigation. If this is not from the telco networks, we suspect that the message came from portable cell sites, which are exclusive for the use of NDRRMC and its approved agencies,” Cabarios said. 

The “severe emergency alert” that popped out of people’s phones, read:

“Emergency alert: Severe
Buong Buo ang Malasakit sa Bansa.
Buong Buhay ang Maialay sa taong bayan. 
Bagong Bukas na Masagana para sa masa
BaBangong Muli ang Pilipinas (V)
BBM sa bansa, BBM sa taong bayan, BBM sa Masa…BBM Pilipinas!!!

#BBM2022.”

Cabarios said, “If the findings confirm our suspicion that a portable cell site was used, the perpetrators will be punished for violating the Radio Control Law and the Free Emergency Alert Service Law,” he said. 

Meanwhile, election watchdog Kontra Daya said the recent “hijacking” of emergency government channels for campaign purposes could set a dangerous precedent in future elections if left unchecked. 

Comelec said it will let other government agencies to look into the matter since it falls beyond its jurisdiction. 

“It is not enough for Comelec to say that it is ill-advised and for NDRRMC to deny sending the emergency alert. There is a need to know who is responsible, what kind of technology was used and why this is available to certain nefarious characters,” Kontra Daya said. 

“If the incident goes unchecked, this could be repeated on a grander scale from now until election day,” it added. 

“Notwithstanding their reported denials, only Marcos and his supporters would benefit from this hijacking of the emergency alert status to engage in de facto premature campaigning,” Kontra Daya said.  

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