The House of Representatives, prior to adjournment, approved on third and final reading a proposal to prohibit the collection of fees from passengers for the use of sanitary facilities located in the land transportation terminals, stations, stops and rest areas.
The proposal is embodied in House Bill 725 principally authored by the late Rep. Maximo Dalog (Lone District, Mountain Province).
The bill declares that the right of every establishment to a fair return of investment carries with it a corresponding social responsibility to provide adequate facilities for the comfort of its clientele.
Towards this end, the State shall require the owners, operators and administrators of land transport terminals, stations, stops and rest areas to provide and maintain suitable and clean sanitary facilities, free of charge to passengers and travelers.
Section 3 of the bill provides it shall be unlawful for the owner, operator or administrator of land transport terminals, stations, stops and rest areas to collect fees from passengers for the use of regular sanitary facilities therein.
The concerned passenger must show the paid bus ticket for the day in order to avail of the free use of the sanitary facility.
The provisions of the Act shall not apply to separate, well-appointed or deluxe sanitary facilities that are operated solely for commercial purposes and for the convenience of passengers who require and prefer such facilities within land transport terminals, stations, stops or rest areas.
Section 4 of the bill provides that any owner, operator or administrator of land transport terminals, stations, stops and rest areas who violates the prohibition in Section 3 shall be liable for a fine amounting to P5,000.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) shall, after five years from the effectivity of the Act and once every five years thereafter, review the applicability and enforcement of the fine and the necessary adjustments on the amount of fine imposed subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The LTFRB and the DOTr shall, within 60 days from the effectivity of the Act, jointly promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the Act.
When Dalog filed HB 725 last year, he said that for the benefit of the riding public who patronize common carriers, the collection of fees from the passengers using comfort rooms and service facilities in the bus terminals or stations, bus stops, and rest areas should be stopped immediately.
Dalog then cited that Presidential Decree 856, otherwise known as the “Code on Sanitation,” states as one of its basis, the need to provide for an adequate number of rest areas for passengers of private and public conveyances plying the highways to cater to the comfort and personal convenience and needs of travelers.
Moreover, Dalog said Article 1755 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines states that a common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances.
“The maintenance of these comfort rooms and service facilities is part of the services for human care of common carriers. Thus, additional payment for maintenance of these facilities should not be imposed on the riding public. In addition, the collection of fees for the use of comfort rooms and service facilities is an added burden to the riding public; hence, making travel within the country more expensive,” said Dalog.
Other authors of the bill are Reps. Strike Revilla (2nd District, Cavite), Johnny Pimentel (2nd District, Surigao del Sur), Fernando Gonzalez (3rd District, Albay), Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), Rozzano Rufino Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City), Mark Aeron Sambar (Party-list, PBA), Cesar Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes), and Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan).