A measure mandating transport terminals to provide free Internet services and clean comfort rooms for commuters is now a signature away to becoming a law.
Congress recently transmitted to Malacañang Senate Bill 1749, or “An Act to Improve Land Transportation Terminals, Stations, Stops, Rest Areas and Roll-On/Roll-Off Terminals,” for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
The enrolled bill, which was adopted by the House of Representatives, was transmitted by the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office to the Office of the President last March 21.
The meaure will lapse into law if the President does not sign it after 30 days from receipt in his office.
Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services and principal author of the measure, expressed hope the President will sign the measure as many students are expected to return to their provinces this school break.
This summer, families are also expected to spend their vacation in several local tourist destinations.
Under the measure, transportation and roll-on/roll-off terminals nationwide should have clean restroom facilities and free Internet access. The terminals must also have separate lactating stations for breastfeeding mothers.
“An efficient and functional inter-province transport system is essential to ensuring that Filipinos travel safely. In particular, rest stops are indispensable for those travelling by land, as they provide a brief ‘pit stop’ for travellers and bus drivers,” Poe said.
“This is especially important for Filipinos who travel for more than eight hours,” she added.
She said terminal toilet experience “is one aspect that travellers remember, whether the experience is impressive or horrible. Terminals and toilets are crucial to tourism,” she said.
“Toilet issues are not petty matters, but important in satisfying the public’s need for healthy living,” she added.
The measure prohibits terminal operators from collecting fees from passengers for the use of restrooms. “The concerned passenger must show paid bus ticket in order to avail of the free use of sanitary facilities,” the measure stated.
Aside from the free use of the clean toilets, the bill also mandates the Department of Information and Communications Technology, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and other concerned agencies, to provide free Internet access in the terminals.
While waiting for their trip, Poe said that passengers while away the time checking their social media accounts or attending to their work remotely, which requires the use of free internet, Wi-Fi or broadband.
The owner, operator, or administrator of land transport terminals, stations, stops, rest areas and RORO terminals who does not comply with the standards for sanitary facilities will be fined in the amount of P5,000 each day of violation and another P5,000 each day who collect fees from the passengers for the use of sanitary facilities.
Another P5,000 each day of violation will also be imposed on operators or owners as penalty for their failure to provide breastfeeding stations.