Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno said that the nationwide emergency hotline 117 will be changed to 911.
The statement came following the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte that the emergency hotline number 911 will be accessible to all Filipinos at any telephone beginning August 1.
A Presidential complaint office is also expected to be launched with hotline number 8888.
Sueno said that the changes was made after a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between DILG and telecommunications companies.
While Duterte had instructed DILG to make the new emergency hotline number 911 free of charge, Sueno said all calls made to 911 and 117 will still be shouldered by the callers from August and until the issuance of MOA signed by the agencies concerned and the release of a new executive order issued by the chief executive.
The system of 117 hotline at present has 15 seats, 43 agents and database of Philippine National Police (PNP) units including their mobile, Local Government Units and its emergency numbers.
Retired General Eliseo Rio Jr. of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and is currently consultant to 117 said that after August 1, the current 15 seats and existing 43 call center agents will increase to 30 and improve to 90 respectively.
Sueno appealed to the public to refrain making prank calls to 911 as it would shorten the response time for those callers that seriously needs assistance.
However, DILG Undersecretary Jesus V. Hinio, Jr. said that Filipinos need to educate on the use of 911 to avoid test and prank calls.
It was reported that soon-to-be changed emergency hotline Patrol 117 to 911 had received an average of 57 hang and prank calls per hour last year.
With the official operation and launching of the new emergency hotline 911 this August, the government expects to a total of 2,730 hang and prank calls out of the anticipated 3,003 calls per hour.