Telecommunications companies and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are both mandated and required by law to send free mobile alerts before disasters happen.
The alert broadcast system was implemented in compliance with the Republic Act 10639, also known as the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act. The legislation was signed on June 20, 2014 and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were released on July 21, 2015. Initially only SMS or text messages were used to alert the public regarding emergencies and disasters.
The Emergency Cell Broadcast System (ECBS) was launched on March 13, 2017 by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Smart Communications.
Emergency alerts disseminated through this system are crafted by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council with inputs from other government agencies. The NDRRMC is limited on the number of characters it can use for each emergency alert message. A computer program made for the system is used to create and send the message.
The system is location-specific, meaning a message is sent by designating an area where mobile phones within it shall receive the emergency alert. In contrast, the SMS-based emergency alert broadcast system is sent to devices through their mobile phone numbers which meant that the NDDRMC had to send emergency alert messages through telecommunications service providers. The process of the SMS-based system could take hours.