MANILA – Tracking who is behind an emergency alert that appeared to promote the 2022 presidential bid of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. will take time, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarrios said Thursday.
This, as he explained that the message may have originated from a portable cell site.
“The problem is tracking this. While it is not impossible, it is difficult because they only transmit a very short time period of time then they transfer.”
“So tracking this will require intelligence works, etc. etc. So, it may take time before the perpetrators of this can be identified,” he said.
Cabarrios told ABS-CBN News Wednesday that the National Disaster Rick Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) did not send the alert in question to telcos for dissemination.
"Most probably, hindi pa natin kino-conclude (we are not yet concluding), most probably galing 'yan sa [that came from] portable cell sites illegally operated," he said.
"We are not yet concluding kasi it’s still being investigated by our regulation branch," added the official.
He also said that the sale of portable cell sites is banned, except by the NDRRMC and the agencies it would allow.
“Because these portable cell sites are very, very effective in areas hit by calamities. When communications are down, then this can be used to…inform the residents in the area of anything that they should do in times of emergencies. The first responders can also use this in their activities to save lives and properties,” he explained in an interview on ANC’s “Rundown.”
“These portable cell sites can only be used during emergencies. So in this particular case, there is no emergency. So the use of this is illegal,” he said.
Cabarrios stressed that, even though the portable cell sites used to transmit this message may have been legally bought, the sending of the message can still be considered illegal.
“So even if it is legally acquired, if it is used not during emergencies, is still illegal. So the transmission of this supposed to be allegedly alert message is illegal per se,” he said.
Asked if NTC has the capacity to track portable sites, Cabarrios said, “We do not have the equipment yet. That’s the reason why if our regulation branch recommends later on, that we [will] seek the assistance of law enforcement agencies because they have the expertise.”
Marcos and his allies "support the swift action of the NTC calling for an investigation," his chief of staff Victor Rodriguez has said.
Cabarrios, however, said the agency doesn’t know yet if the Marcos camp’s comment will be required in their investigation.
“We don’t know yet. We have to identify who sent the message,” he said.
“But the first step is really to determine…whether it came from portable cell site, second is to determine who sent that one, determine whether the portable cell site is registered or not--because if it’s not it’s illegal--and then from ganoon, investigation can proceed and identify the source of the message.”
--ANC, 7 October 2021