BAGUIO CITY – The city council here approved on first reading a proposed ordinance prohibiting all persons, entities, and business establishments in the city from charging any fee to senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and expectant mothers for the use of any rest room or comfort rooms and providing penalties for violations thereof.
The proposed ordinance authored by councillor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. cited it is declared policy of the state enshrined under the Constitution to promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living and an improved quality of life.
Further, Article II, Sections 10 and 11 of the Constitution declares that the State shall provide social justice in all phases of national development and that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect of human rights and Article XIII, Section 11 also provides that the State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to help development which shall endeavour to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost.
Yangot asserted that there shall be priority for the needs of the under privileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women and children and that it is the duty of the family to take care of its elderly members while the State may design programs of social security for them.
In the city, He cited it is apparent that some business establishments are charging fees for the use of comfort rooms or restrooms located within their establishments and as a result, most people who need to sue the said rooms are constrained to look for the ‘free ‘comfort rooms or rest rooms’ which are often times not accessible.
According to him, the senior citizens, PWDs, expectant mothers are at a great disadvantage since they are less mobile or incapable of walking further in order to respond to the ‘call of nature.’
Under the proposal, any senior citizen or PWD who intends to use a pay comfort room is required to present his or her valid identification card issued by the concerned office of the city government to the attendant or cashier of any pay rest room located in the city to be able to avail of the free use of the same and that no other identification card shall be entertained for such purpose.
Owners or operators of establishments with pay rest rooms found to be violating the provisions of the ordinance shall be penalized with standard fine of P5,000 or serve an imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both at the discretion of the court.
If the establishment is owned by a partnership, the partners who own such establishment where such senior citizens, persons with disabilities or expectant mothers is prohibited from entering the rest room free of charge be held liable for violation of the ordinance. If the establishment is owned by a corporation, the president or general manager of such corporation shall be liable thereof.
Yangot added it shall be the duty of the establishment owner to put a prominent sign which states senior citizens of the city, PWDs and expectant mothers are free of charge and failure to do so shall likewise result in the imposition of penalties. By Dexter A. See