Netizens from the Philippines bashed telecom giant Globe after it announced that emergency calls using hotlines 911 and 8888 will be charged the regular rate plus Php5 per call.
While the move was supposedly supported by the government who, according to Globe officials, allegedly suggested the extra charges to prevent prank callers, thousands of netizens were angry because they wanted the calls to be free of charge considering using the 911 hotline means that there is an emergency and the user might not have enough credits to make a call.
It seems that Globe’s main rival, Smart, and its sister company PLDT are willing to make do without the fees. In an interview as reported on InterAksyon, PLDT/Smart Public Affairs head Ramon Isberto said, “If the government will instruct us to make it free, no problem.”
With the hotlines scheduled to be rolled out starting next week, this statement was welbowed by many netizens. But Isberto was quick to explain that until the government tells them to make the calls free, they will still be charging the regular rates.
As for the heartless, money-making issue, Isberto said that was not the case. While it is true that the company would earn money for each call made since these will be charged the regular rate, he said it was not about the money but as Globe had explained, it is about stopping prank callers from becoming a nuisance on the hotlines.
Isberto said, “What if someone in need dials 911 and yet he/she can’t access the hotline because there are many prank callers in the line or trying to access it at the same time?”
He also revealed that when the government had hotline 117, as high as 97% of the calls were actually just prank calls.
Still, they expect the hotlines to be buzzing next week, not just with prank calls but with calls from citizens who just want to check whether the lines are actually working.