Hotline 911 in the Philippines Goes Live : I Called, Here's What I Learned

As promised by President Rodrigo Duterte during the start of his term, hotlines 911 and 8888 both officially went live at exactly 12 o'clock in the morning today, August 1, 2016.

PH Hotline 911

This noon, after I received a number of questions from my readers on what exactly the purpose of Hotline 911 is - among other related concerns, I deemed it best to dial up the number and relay the inquiries to the operator. I've previously tried asking questions directly to the Presidential Communications team on social media but I never really got a reply.

I made this 2-minute call in the spirit of public service and my desire to help my fellow Filipinos especially those who are still clueless about this government service that we are just getting nationwide for the first time in history. I properly introduced myself as a tech blogger and asked the operator beforehand she could answer the questions, to which she said 'yes'.

Technically, a prank call is a telephone practical joke (source) or is a call that is made to trick someone. The call that we made is meaningful as it is journalistic in nature and serves the purpose of empowering people with knowledge. TechPinas condemns prank calling and moving forward, does not encourage Filipinos to call Hotline 911 for non-emergency reasons.

Here's a rough transcript of our conversation:

*after three rings*
Operator: Hello! Hotline 911. How may I help you?
TP: Hello! This is Mark of I'm calling to ask a few questions about Hotline 911. May I know who's on the line?
Operator: Hello po! This is Codename 00[2-digit number]. Yes po, what are your questions?
TP: I see. So you use codenames or code numbers pala.
Operator: Yes, sir.
TP: These are questions that I got from my readers. Here's the first one, 'When and what time did 911 go live?'
Operator: Today, sir. August 1, 2016, 12AM.
TP: Right on schedule! So how many operators are manning Hotline 911 currently?
Operator: As of today po, more than 40. But I think we are still growing.
TP: Of course, landline callers from the provinces need to add an area code to reach 911, right?
Operator: Yes, for provincial callers using landline, they need to add (02) area code.
TP: But those from the provinces who will use their cellphones to call won't have to use an area code, correct?
Operator: Yes, no need for area code for cellphone/GSM callers nationwide and landline callers in Manila.
TP: OK. What exactly is the purpose of 911?
Operator: It's for emergency cases po, especially those that require police assistance or an ambulance. Also, Pinoys can call us when there's fire in their area or if they get into road accidents, among others.
TP: When you use your Smart, Sun, or Globe number to call 911, will it be free of charge?
Operator: Can you hold for 10 seconds, sir?
TP: Alright.
Operator: *after 10 seconds* I'm sorry sir but I am not familiar with our office's deal with network operators regarding that.
TP: It's alright. Thank you so much, Codename 00[2-digit number]!

I've just tweeted both Smart Communications and Globe Telecom as regards the last inquiry. Still waiting for their reply. Stay tuned for updates!

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