US senator pushes for Tagalog emergency alert system

Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Feb 09 2018 06:37 PM

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LAS VEGAS — The erroneous emergency alert announcement that shook the state of Hawaii in January sparked panic and fear when it warned a ballistic missile will strike soon.

This incident shined a light on the Federal Communication Commission and how the government should handle such alerts.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto addressed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, discussing the need to tackle language barriers in Nevada’s emergency alert systems, by using Tagalog and Spanish.

“Not just Spanish language alone. In Nevada, particularly in southern Nevada, we have a huge Filipino population and Tagalog is an important language obviously, and that’s a barrier for those who don’t speak Spanish,” said Masto.

The initiative would benefit many elderly Filipinos like Sofia Tabangcura.

At 82, Tabangcura takes public transportation. But most of the time, she is alone and just watches TV.

“Mas maigi sa akin kung may translation nung English. Kung minsan, hindi ako makapag-salita ng English, hindi ko masyadong maintindihan, hindi rin nila ako maintindihan,” said Tabangcura.

Ron Solis, who manages buses, said the mandate of an emergency alert system in the buses in Tagalog would be a big help for disabled Pinoy passengers.

“With this new system na Tagalog, this will tremendously help us kasi, what's been happening is, when we have this emergency and it goes to different entity or providers, they would not know na talagang emergency yun. But if it boils down to talagang Filipino emergency, it’s in our language. They would really respond to it, 'di lang nila babalewalain,” said Solis.

Solis added that the transportation’s emergency response protocol in Tagalog will help the Filipino community with disaster preparedness, fire suppression, and basic disaster medical operations as well as light search and rescue operations.

For now, Senator Cortez Masto vows to continue and support the importance of the Filipino language in the emergency alert systems.

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