Banning he collection of comfort room fees in commercial areas is laudable. A lawmaker has filed a bill to stop the collection of fees from any person who uses comfort rooms in commercial areas.
What if a poor old lady wants to pee and she’s not allowed in bus stops and terminals because she has no P5.00? Will we let her do it in public instead? What a shame.
The bill if it becomes a law is good because it will give the poor and underprivileged access to basic public services.
Also, the bill seeks to stop the practice of owners of business establishments, particularly high-end malls (in other cities, thanks there’s none in Cagayan de Oro) of charging fees for the use of comfort rooms or toilets purportedly for the maintenance of these facilities.
The declared policy of the State says: “The Constitution also promotes basic services to the underprivileged. Good infrastructure is a fundamental component in the proper delivery of basic social services and free and functional toilets are among them.”
However, it is sad that a number of commercial establishments and even LGUS charge fees for the use of comfort rooms even in public places like bus terminals. This is contrary to constitutional provisions.
Under the “Free Comfort Rooms Act of 2012,” no person or business establishment owner shall collect or solicit fees from any person for the use of comfort rooms within their premises. The bill penalizes violators with a fine of P10,000 for first time offenders and one year imprisonment or a fine of P20,000 for second time offenders. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the local government units (LGUs) are directed to administer and monitor the implementation of this Act. LET US SEE IF THIS WILL BE REALIZED soon.
The government should realize that stopping these comfort room fees may still give solution to the shortage of public comfort rooms. It would also serve specific groups of people particularly
persons with disabilities (PWD) and senior citizens.
There is a shortage of free and good comfort rooms in the country. The country’s public school system for one has an estimated shortfall of more than 150,000 comfort rooms, which exposed schoolchildren to dengue and other diseases. A 2007 World Bank study on the economic impacts of sanitation in Southeast Asia, estimated that the Philippines loses approximately $9 billion a year because of poor sanitation. The study showed that 9.1 million Filipinos still went to the toilet in the open, relying on the streets or in the fields, while 15.2 million used public toilets.
These problems can be sold if commercial establishments would be stopped from collecting comfort fees necessary. BUT an agency of the government should undertake the cleaning and maintenance of public comfort room and improve sanitation practices. Who knows, this may even help boost the local tourism industry’.
While pay toilets can be found around the world, they have lost their popularity particularly in the United States where a campaign by the Committee to End Pay Toilets in America (CEPTIA) resulted in laws against pay toilets being made in a number of cities and states in the mid-1970s due to loss of profits. In the Philippines, we should make a difference too – FREE TOILET MEANS GOOD GOVERNANCE.