Philippines adopts 911 as emergency hotline number

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — People anywhere in the country can soon call 911 during emergencies.

President Rodrigo Duterte on May 25 signed Executive Order No. 56, "institutionalizing the use of 911 as the Nationwide Emergency Hotline Number," replacing 117. A copy of the order was released to the media on Friday.

The change in hotline number was meant "to conform with international standards" and ensure "a seamless nationwide communication infrastructure for emergency services," the order read. Countries like the U.S. have been using 911 as an emergency contact number.

Under Duterte's order, the Emergency 911 Commission, headed by the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), is tasked to make sure all calls are free.

Private communication carriers and telecom companies are meanwhile mandated to ensure the uninterrupted connectivity and integration of calls.

All local government units are urged to establish local 911 call centers in their area, using their own funds.

Primary service responders include the Bureau of Fire Protection for fire incidents and search and rescue services, and the Philippine National Police to ensure public safety and crime prevention. Other government agencies and organizations are mandated to respond to emergencies when necessary.

The order, however, warns against prank calls.

"All fraudulent, hoax, or prank reports shall be dealt with in accordance with existing and applicable laws, rules, and regulations and the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of this order," the order read.

The DILG is tasked to come up with the IRR within 60 days, while the law takes effect upon publication in a newspaper with general circulation.

Officials earlier said the hotline was derived from Davao City's Central 911 which provides medical, fire, rescue, and police assistance as well as K-9 or sniffer dog units.

Duterte, the former mayor of Davao City, introduced the 911 emergency hotline in August 2016 as part of his measures fight crime and corruption. The newly signed order, however, institutionalizes the the number as the emergency hotline nationwide.