Suggestion on how the Philippine govt should react to text hoaxes

A few days ago, at the beginning of the Japan nuclear radiation crisis, a text was passed all around the Philippines stating that at a particular time of the day, it will rain acid due to the radiation coming from Japan (or something to that effect). Of course this was immediately debunked by scientists, yet a lot of people believed it: it even caused the President of a University to suspend classes!

As expected, the government’s response (coming from Justice Secretary de Lima) was for the National Telecommunications Commission to find the source of the text.

At a news briefing on Tuesday, De Lima said the sources of the text messages could be held liable for committing “crimes against public order” under Article 155, Chapter 5 of the Revised Penal Code.

Unfortunately the NTC admits that it is “helpless” against unregistered SIM cards:

National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Common Carriers Authorization Department Director Edgardo Cabarios said while they can pinpoint mobile phone numbers, they cannot trace the owners of the phones who are using prepaid phone cards.

I have this sneaky feeling that Justice Secretary de Lima is just making a case to ensure that the SIM registration act goes into law. I hope I’m wrong.

I have a suggestion: Instead of pumping millions (billions?) of taxpayer’s money into finding the person/s who created this hoax, maybe the government can use the TelCos to spread “real news” via texts? The subscribers only get charged when the government texts them. Even if only 3 out of 10 Prepaid SIM users get the texts from the government, it would be enough to stop such hoaxes from making such a mockery of people ever again.

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