PLDT to upgrade Citizens' complaint hotline 8888 after threat from Duterte - BALITANG PINOY

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

PLDT to upgrade Citizens' complaint hotline 8888 after threat from Duterte

Manila--The telecommunication company PLDT, Inc. vowed on Tuesday to upgrade the Citizens' complaint hotline 8888 through improving its trunk lines following threat of suspension from President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We're gonna put more lines than the 20 mandated in the contract with the government and we will man it ourselves," telco's chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said during sidelines of Manila Electric Co.'s (Meralco) 2018 financial results briefing in Pasig City.

In a sworn statement, PLDT spokesman Ramon Isberto also said that the telco was making its move to address the problem.

"We are currently taking steps to address the concern expressed by the President to improve the public's access to the Citizen's Complaint Center 8888 hotline number," he said.

During the campaign sortie of ruling party PDP-Laban in Cebu City last Sunday, Duterte pointed out the effective implementation of anti-graft hotline following his discussion on anti-corruption efforts.

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While discussing, Duterte warns the telco of the risk of closure if it fails to accommodate all the calls to the complaint hotline.

If you see corruption, tell me. Call 8888. Bong [former Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go], add another trunk line. The present setup can’t accommodate all the calls. It’s always busy. Tell PLDT. If not, I’ll shut down their business,” Duterte said.

“Oo, that’s true. I don’t want to brag, but they owe government eight billion [pesos]. No President has ever asked for payment. But when I became President, I said…,” he added.

In response to Duterte's further notice, Pangilinan expressed apology and making sure to take action forward.

"We apologize for that. We are glad that the President caught our attention to it," he added.

Pangilinan, who sits also as the chairman of Meralco explained that the complaint call center was undermanned.

"Apparently, the 8888 is really a call center operations for both telcos. We have 20 lines each. We're supposed to provide the lines, which we have provided but the lines are not manned properly, undermanned so not all the calls are getting answer," Pangilinan said.

In response to the service problem, Pangilinan said PLDT would add more trunk lines and increase personnel manning the 8888 call center, despite their contract saying they have to service 20 lines.

"We will forget what the agreement said so we will increase the number of lines to accommodate the calls and we will man it ourselves. So we are responding to the President's criticism," he said.

The 24-hour hotline was institutionalized in 2016 for the public to report corrupt or underperforming government officials and projects.

Opposition Senator Leila De Lima claimed the hotline failed to accommodate 1.4 million calls in the first five months from August to December 2016 due to same problem of being "undermanned."

She said that some people complained of being charged P5 per minute via mobile despite free of charge vows by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“While there is no charge if they call via landline, this program is still not accessible to all, especially because not everyone has an access to landlines and prepaid mobile phone users would not be able to access the hotline either by call or SMS if they have no remaining credits,” she said.

In December 2017, De Lima has called on the Senate to probe the efficacy and accessibility in the implementation of the anti-graft hotline.

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