By Ben Rosario
Senior citizens will be given priority seating under a bill that imposes prison and fine penalties against violators.
In House Bill No. 2068 filed by Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, operators and owners of public land, air and sea transportation are mandated to give the elderly the right to be seated in their units.
Vargas said the Department of Transportation already has an existing directive for priority seating for senior citizens, pregnant women and persons with disabilities. This is provided under Department Order No. 2014-013.
“But our lolos and lolas continue to lament the lenient implementation of these laws and executive orders as they find themselves standing on a cramped and moving vehicle while non-eligible passengers occupy the seats designated to them,” noted Vargas.
The administration solon said HB 2068 proposes to further strengthen Republic Act 7432 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act by making priority seating for the elderly a mandate of the law.
He stressed that it is the responsibility of the state to make public transportation and facilities and utilities accessible to everyone, especially the vulnerable sectors such as persons with disabilities and seniors.
HB 2068 seeks to amend RA 7432 by inserting a provision for priority seating for the elderly.
Under the bill all public utility vehicles, public utility buses, rail transport and air and sea transport providers are enjoined to reserve and “designate the best possible seats for senior citizens.’
All priority seats will be clearly labeled to indicate that passengers may use them but must give up the seat if needed by an elderly.
HB 2068 exempts PWDs and pregnant women from giving up their seat in favor of an elderly passenger.
Vargas said commercial air and sea transport providers are directed to make sure that priority seats are made available to elderly passengers during the reservation of seats and that seniors “may not be transferred to other seat or bumped off with at least one week of prior notice and without reason.”
Violators among PUV or PUB operators face imprisonment of two months to one year or a fine of P1,000 to P5,000, without prejudice to the imposition of administrative sanctions such as suspension or revocation of the franchise granted by the government.
Transport operators who fail to comply may be imprisoned for five months to two years or fined a hefty P50,000.
Air and sea transport provides face imprisonment of five to ten years for non-compliance. A fine of P100,000 to P500,000 may also be imposed.