House panel pushes bill to regulate car parks, make operators liable for overcharging

Published September 26, 2020, 4:54 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House Committee on Trade has taken steps to stop the exploitation of  consumers owning motor vehicles as it  strongly endorsed the immediate passage of a bill that will make car park operators liable for overcharging and for failing to secure parked cars.

The House panel chaired by Valenzuela City Rep. Wesley Gatchalian sent House Bill 7725 for plenary debates with an appeal for its approval.

HB 7725 consolidated a total 20 different bills authored by over 50 congressmen.  The sheer number of authors is an indication of solid support for the measure that has failed enactment, reportedly due to the well-financed lobby initiated by vehicle parking operators.

Now both deceased, Senators Rene Cayetano and Tessie Aquino-Oreta were the original authors of car park regulation bills during their stint as senator and Malabon-Navotas congresswoman, respectively.  

The two strongly batted for passage of the measure but failed to get their bills passed even in the committee level of their respective chambers.

Gatchalian said HB 7225  proposes to promote public safety and the general welfare of consumers who avail of parking facilities offered by business operators.

The bill encourages all business establishments, including hospitals, malls, hotels, restaurants and others, to offer their parking spaces free of charge to customers patronizing their products and services.

On the other hand, business establishments are granted the right to impose maximum charges varying from  P20 to P50 per hour to motorists who will use the spaces merely for parking purposes.

However for customers of retail establishments, free parking spaces will only be limited to two hours, after which, the motorist will be charged P10 per hour but not to exceed P50 per day.  This provision is not applicable to overnight parking schemes.

For independent parking enterprises, standard fees to be charged will be P30 for first three hours and P20 for each succeeding hour thereafter.

Multilevel parking enterprises may impose P40 for  first three hours and P20 per hour thereafter.

The bill also provides that all covered establishments must provide and maintain security in their parking lots and that the business owners shall be held liable for damages  on the vehicle, theft and robbery against the motorists.

In filing their version of the bill, Deputy Speaker and 1 Pacman Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero, together with Reps. Eric Pineda (1PACman Partylist); Jocelyn Tulfo and Nina Taduran (ACT-CIS Partylist, stressed the need for government to regulate the operation of parking establishments.

“It is imperative to enact a law to regulate the parking fees being collected and to make owners and administrators of paid parking facilities accountable in view of improving the safety and security of these establishments for the safety and benefit of people,” the partylist solons said.

Deputy Speaker and 1SAGIP Partylist Rep. Rodante Marcoleta authored HB 2125 that was consolidated with HB 7225.

“This bill does not entirely prohibit the collection of parking fees but to rationalize its imposition in the light of an unregulated environment relative thereto that proves nugatory, if not inimical to, the interests and welfare of the patronizing and motoring public,” said Marcoleta.

He added: “There is also no denying of the fact that, until today, there are still more responsible and consumer-sensitive establishments that do not charge parking fees in their premises.”