Spitting in public places to become a criminal act

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QUEZON CITY, 25Aug2013 (PNA) – A lawmaker has proposed to criminalize spitting in public places to prevent the spread of tuberculosis (TB) and other contagious and airborne diseases.

Rep. Eulogio “Amang” Magsaysay (Party-list, AVE) filed House Bill 299 or the Anti-Spitting Act of 2013, which he hoped would also “help spread environmental and health consciousness among the citizens apart from changing societal habits and lifestyles.”

“With the occurrence of global pandemics like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), bird flu and other contagious and airborne diseases, there is an urgent need to change hazardous society habits like spitting,” Magsaysay said.

The bill prohibits any person from carelessly or intentionally spitting saliva, phlegm, mucus or other substances from the mouth in public places such as city streets, alleys, sidewalks, parks, malls, markets, streets, public carriers, public halls, buildings, banks, public squares, terminals, shopping and business centers, schools, churches, hospitals and other similar areas.

Any person caught spitting in public places shall be fined with P500 for the first offense and P1,000 for the second offense. The three-time offender shall pay a fine of P2,000 and attend a health seminar conducted by the Department of Health with the local health units or face a subsidiary imprisonment not exceeding six months or both at the discretion of the court.

Magsaysay filed the bill as he noted that spitting has been identified as one of the factors in the spread of TB, which, though curable, ranks sixth among the top leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the Philippines.

“Recent data reveal that the number of deaths due to TB stands at an average of 75 Filipinos every day. It is contagious and airborne as mycobacterism tuberculosis, the bacteria, which causes TB, can survive in a dried state for weeks up to eight months,” Magsaysay said.

According to Magsaysay, Metro Manila mayors approved a resolution in 2003 prohibiting spitting in public places as a means to combat Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) but no significant change happened in the people’s societal habits.

Only Davao City has been vigorously implementing the anti-spitting ordinance since 2010, said Magsaysay, who cited that anti-spitting laws are now being enforced in Singapore, India, Malaysia and China.

The bill mandates the local government units (LGUs) to lead in implementing the provisions of the proposed Act. The Department of Health, in coordination with the Department of Science and Technology, shall conduct seminars and provide guidelines including the Implementing Rules and Regulations on the enforcement of the Anti-Spitting Act.

Appropriations required in the implementation of the act shall be sourced from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the LGUs.(PNA)

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