House Deputy Speakers Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro City) and Evelina Escudero (Sorsogon) pushed for the construction of public restrooms on national and provincial roads, saying a tourist-ready country is one that has an ample number of such facilities for travelers on its main highways.
The two House leaders batted for the approval of House Bills 28 and 4872 when they were taken up by the House Committee on Public Works and Highways in a virtual hearing Monday morning.
The bills propose the construction of public rest rooms every 30 to 50 kilometers on national and provincial highways throughout the country. A third similar bill, HB No. 4756, authored by Manila Rep. John Marvin Nieto, was also discussed.
“It will really be improving our land transport situation by having land transport support facilities like rest rooms. A sign of being a developed country, ready to accept tourists are comfort rooms,” Rodriguez said in his sponsorship speech.
“We cannot attempt to state that our country is ready to accept the influx of tourists after the pandemic if we do not have comfort rooms along the highways where the tourists would move, including domestic tourists. We want ourselves to be traveling in our own country,” added the Mindanaoan.
In her sponsorship speech, Escudero said that the measure “is a very practical piece of legislation…travelers won’t be forced to relieve themselves in the open streets, or elsewhere. So think this bill is very important.”
“Tourism now is down because of the (COVID-19) pandemic but surely it will get back to its feet and while we are waiting for the tourist to come back, probably we would have made available already the toilets in the middle of the road,” she said.
The lady lawmaker also noted that the proposal has been pending in the House of Representatives since 2016.
Rodriguez said he would prefer to have the rest room construction done in phases “because we cannot construct all the restrooms in one year.”
“Once it (rest room) is constructed, Public Works (department) have the option to maintain it or to assign NGOs (non-government organizations) the barangay to operate this because they can now charge for it,” he said.
He said a charge of P20 per person would be reasonable, given that the charge for public rest rooms in Europe is 1 to 2 Euros (roughly P58 to P116).
Panel chairman Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona initially wanted to subject the three bills under a technical working group (TWG) discussion for purposes of consolidation, which would entail a subsequent hearing.
But Rodriguez said the process could be expedited by having the committee secretary perform the consolidation.
“We don’t need really a TWG, Mr. Chairman. They’re similar to each other. They have the same purpose and same provisions,” Rodriguez said.
Madrona ultimately carried a motion from Escudero to approve the three bills on the committee level, with the committee secretary expected to produce a consolidated version of the measure.