- Free toilet facilities and free Wi-Fi now legally mandated at transport terminals across the Philippines
- New law signed in April, but only announced on Wednesday, June 19
- Payment for use of toilet, a common practice in the Philippines, could come to an end
Manila: It costs 5 pesos (Dh0.35, $0.096) to urinate in the only public toilet at a major bus terminal in Alabang, a bustling suburb in the Philippine capital.
It costs double — 10 pesos — to poo in this loo. You can take a shower, too, for 20 pesos ($0.39). A comfy shower opportunity, however, may never come at the rate this terminal goes.
The toilet is clean. But, for this massive terminal for provincial buses coming from southern Luzon on north-bound trips to Manila, a city inhabited by 12.8 million people, there is only one public toilet.
For many, even the simple act of urinating becomes almost like a survival-of-the-fittest challenge.
The elderly and ill are most affected; the wait can stretch for up to an hour. The only option to get ahead is to pay others to jump the line.
Either way, the challenge remains: there just aren't enough facilities for the sheer volume of people who go through it.
Oh, and this public toilet where serpentine queues are regular scene is owned by a private entity, attached to the StarMall.
It’s just one case of the dreadful lack of infrastructure and public services in Manila — and the Philippines as a whole.
Now, a relief for this sorry state is finally in sight.
On Wednesday, June 19, it was announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill mandating clean sanitary facilities and free internet services in transportation terminals.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11311 on April 17 — but the Philippine media was only told about it on Wednesday.
It’s not immediately clear when it will happen and how it will pan out.
Under the new law, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), along with other concerned agencies, are mandated to ensure the provision of toilets and free internet in land transportation terminals, stations, stops, rest areas and RORO (roll-on-roll-off) terminals.
Under the law, owners, operators or administrators of transport establishments are also legally liable to fully ensure the speedy and efficient implementation of these services.
The law also prohibits the collection of fees from passengers for the use of toilets.
However, the law does not cover “well-appointed or deluxe sanitary facilities” that are operated for commercial purposes and for the convenience of passengers.
Terminals are also mandated to have separate lactation stations for breastfeeding mothers.
Failure to comply with the law will result in the payment of fines of P5,000 for each day of violation and another P5,000 fine per day that fees have been collected from passengers for the use of sanitary facilities.
Another P5,000 fine for each day of violation will also be imposed on operators or owners of transport terminals for failure to provide breastfeeding stations.
(a) Separate rest rooms for persons with disabilities (PWDs), male and female passengers;
(b) Adequate ventilation and lighting;
(c) Safe, adequate and running water supply;
(d) Flush system;
(e) Toilet seat with cover;
(f) Lavatory with toilet paper; mirror, soap, hand dryer and door lock'
(g) Waste bin; and
(h) Exclusive space for diaper-changing.
Have you encountered a pay-to-pee experience at land transport and RORO terminals in the Philippines? Read this law. Take pictures, identify location and tell the relevant authorities. Share with firstname.lastname@example.org