April 21, 2024

The city council has approved Ordinance 1, s. 2023 or the “Customer Access to Free Potable Water Ordinance in the City of Baguio” for the welfare and safety of diners and the public as a whole.
The ordinance intends to supplement Ordinance 56, s. 2009, which only prohibits and penalizes the serving of tap water by dining establishments but failed to mandate the provision of free potable water to their customers.
Potable water as defined under the ordinance refers to water that is safe to drink and passed the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water test and not tap water nor filtered water, while customer refers to one who avails of the services offered in a restaurant or food establishments.
Authored by Councilor Fred Bagbagen, the ordinance mandates all restaurants and other similar business establishments serving meals and refreshments and operating within Baguio to provide access to free potable water to their customers at all times and not only upon customer’s request or ask for it; regular or everyday cleaning of their water dispensers/storage containers; posting of “Free service water” signage inside their establishments or the common “Free self-service water” for small establishments only; and display in a visible place their business permit together with the latest water test result of water provider and monthly water sampling and bacteriology test, which should be available at all times.
The City Health Services Office is tasked to conduct regular inspection of establishments to ensure compliance and realization of the purpose and objectives of the ordinance.
Penalties and fines for any restaurant or similar establishment that do not comply with or violate the ordinance are first offense – P3,000, reprimand and first notice of violation; second offense – P4,000 and a second and final notice of violation; and third offense – P5,000 and a suspension of business permit and closure until such time the restaurant or establishment complies with the ordinance.
Copy of the ordinance was submitted to the Office of Mayor Benjamin Magalong for his signature.
For the information and appropriate action of all concerned stakeholders and especially for the benefit of dining customers, the city council through Resolution 7, s. 2023 requested restaurants and other food serving establishments in the city that are charging service fee to post a notice in their establishment indicating and informing such added bill or fees to be paid by their customers.
Authored by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, the resolution cited Article 96 of Presidential Decree 442 or the Labor Code of the Philippines, which provides that 85 percent of the total service charge collected by establishments shall go to the employees while 15 percent will go to the management.
This was amended by Republic Act 113601, or the new service charge law, so that service charges collected by hotels, restaurants, and other similar establishments be distributed in full or complete and equally to all covered employees, except those in a managerial position, although there is no provision under the law of a minimum or maximum amount of the percentage of service charge.
The resolution stated charging an additional amount for services rendered is disappointing to customers or diners especially if done without prior notice or information to them, and more so if the whole collection will go to the management and not to the employees.
It is an unfair practice under the law which needs to be corrected, Tabanda said.
In Resolution 12, s. 2023, the Local Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Committee, through the City Health Officer and the president of the Baguio Association of Purified and Mineral Water Refillers, Inc. were urged to submit within 30 days to the Mayor’s Office and the city council a report on the compliance of drinking water refillers with Ordinance 41, s. 2007 and Ordinance 59, s. 2008, which regulate the extraction, processing, distribution, and use of water in the city for the safeguard of public health.
The resolution wants to identify the reasons why 66 percent of purified and mineral water refillers in the city in 2016 were unable to secure a business permit and to come up with measures to ensure compliance to the city’s water regulatory ordinance.
The resolution stated water is most essential to support life and is a basic human necessity but access to clean potable water by households is now becoming restricted as it has developed into a prime commercial commodity and its quality being degraded by unscrupulous distributors or suppliers.
The proliferation of colorum water refilling stations also poses a potential public health hazard, particularly as observed that some entrepreneurs are using deformed and discolored water plastic barrels especially those delivered in the barangays.
The resolution further requested that the status survey report of the association be likewise furnished to the Local Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Committee through the CHSO and the Permits and Licensing Division for information and appropriate action.