BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance requiring all business establishments operating in the city to provide priority and courtesy seats for persons with disabilities (PWDs), senior citizens, expectant mothers and adults travelling with infants or small children.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. stated that the measure aims to extend the courtesy to the elderly, PWDs and expectant mothers the necessary accommodations within business establishments in keeping with their contributions to society, safety and good health as well as to eliminate discrimination in all its homes.
The ordinance added that all owners or operators of business establishments operating within the city are required to provide designated areas for priority and courtesy seats for their patrons.
In case someone not covered by the rules occupies one of the designated seats, Yangot explained that he or she must vacate the provided priority and courtesy seats, respect its purpose and move for those with a greater need of it.
Further, any person with disability seating in a priority seat is not required to offer his or her seat for another customer with disability nor shall any elderly or pregnant woman give up his or her seat for those similarly situated.
The ordinance stipulated that restaurants are required to make reasonable modifications to their policies and procedures to prevent discrimination against patrons with a disability, expectant mothers, elderly and adults travelling with infants or small children and owners and operators of business establishments are required to prominently post and display priority and courtesy seating signages in locations most visible to the public.
On the other hand, the ordinance underscored that owners and operators of business establishments who fail to designate priority and courtesy seats for PWDs, elderly, expectant mothers and adults travelling with infants or small children shall be penalized by a fine of not less than P2,000 for the first offense, a fine of not less than P3000 or suspension of business permit for one month for the second offense and a fine of not less than P5,000 or revocation of business permit for the third offense.
The Special Services Division in coordination with the City Permits and Licensing Division of the City Mayor’s Office will be tasked to monitor the effective and efficient implementation of the pertinent provisions of the local legislative measure.
Yangot explained several citizens are in constant struggle with ‘hidden disabilities’ which could pose serious challenges for people who are not observant or even courteous enough unless the pain for the said struggle is seen.
He claimed that priority seating is a concept designed to allow persons with disabilities an equal treatment of access and comfort as other able-bodied people enjoy while courtesy seating is intended for pregnant or nursing women, those with small children and senior citizens to reprieve themselves from having to stand or made to wait for their turns, tables, taxis or any other transactions they engage in.
By Dexter A. See