The emergency text blast last week that announced the presidential bid of former senator Bongbong Marcos is no small matter. The alert violated the law and perverted the emergency alert system.
It is an incident that should not be cast aside as trivial or without consequence because there are repercussions. In the first place, it violates the law, in particular, Republic Act 10639 or the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act that regulates the sending of text alerts to mobile phones to warn of impending heavy downpours, landslides and other calamities. Persons behind the text blast on the candidacy of Marcos, son of the dictator, apparently didn’t worry about getting caught and being penalized for violating the law. It takes equipment and knowledge to use the system and to pull it off these persons must be more than any Marcos fan.
The misdeed brings to mind the story of the boy who cried wolf, who tricked his town’s residents into thinking a wolf was attacking their flock. When a wolf actually showed up, the boy ran to the villagers to ask for help. The villagers thought it was just another false alarm by the boy. Their sheep ended up being eaten by the wolf. The Marcos text blast is like crying “wolf” as it undermines the emergency alert system intended to warn the public of the impending danger.
The National Telecommunications Commission is looking into who could be responsible for violating the law. The alarm system is meant solely for government agencies mandated to use it under a disaster risk reduction and management program. The system is supposed to be trusted because an emergency situation means those to be affected have only hours to move away or seek higher ground.
Whoever was behind this did Marcos a disservice. Marcos does not need this controversy of a false emergency because, at the heart of his candidacy are questions about the truth of the many aspects of his past—the Marcos billions, martial law abuses, and the silencing of the opposition and media.
For Marcos, this is not a good way to begin a campaign. Not when the battleground for his campaign tests his version of the truth. The truth.
* * *
My congratulations to the country’s first Nobel peace prize winner, Maria Ressa. The Rappler founder and chief executive officer and Russian journalist Dmitri A. Muratov were given the prize “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” Ressa is the first Filipino Nobel peace prize winner.
Rappler, in a statement, said the award “could not have come at a better time—a time when journalists and the truth are being attacked and undermined.” It thanked the Nobel for “recognizing journalists who continue to shine the light even in the darkest and toughest hours.”