Hotline Bling: Prank callers clogging up emergency lines could be penalized under proposed bill

·1 min read

Prank callers aren’t just a nuisance — they can become a life and death matter when they clog up emergency lines and prevent real calls for help from getting through. A new bill working its way through Congress aims to punish such pranksters appropriately.

Once signed into law, the Anti-Prank Callers Act will impose penalties on prank callers that “intentionally make mischievous and malicious calls that will spoil the government resources and make ridicule them for their benefit or reasons,” according to Parañaque 2nd District Rep. Gustavo Tambunting, the bill’s primary author.

Prank callers, you don’t want to face Liam Neeson’s wrath.
Prank callers, you don’t want to face Liam Neeson’s wrath.

“To uphold the reliability and integrity of this public service, this legislation is proposed to forbid and penalize prank callers for irresponsibly alarming the emergency hotline,” Tambunting’s explanatory note read.

Offenders may face a PHP5,000 (US$87.92) fine for the first offense, a PHP10,000 (US$175.84) fine and jail time for the second offense, and a PHP20,000 (US$351.67) penalty and jail time for the third offense.

The Philippines’ nationwide emergency hotline is 911, which replaced the old hotline of 117 in 2016.
To give you an idea of the scope of the problem, the government says that 911 received a whopping 2.54 million prank calls in 2019.