February 29, 2024

Smoke-Free Ordinance fine dodgers are not yet off the hook.
Noting the big number of violators neglecting to settle their fines, Mayor Benjamin Magalong issued notices of non-payment to the individuals and establishments.
The mayor-led Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force agreed to accept blood donation as a form of community service as reparation for violations. 
The first violator who opted for blood donation was caught vaping last Feb. 3 by community enforcers at Barangay T. Alonzo and went to the Philippine Red Cross Baguio on Feb. 4 to donate blood.
The demand notices were delivered starting Feb. 14 by the Public Order and Safety Division enforcement unit under Security Officer II Daryll Longid to hundreds of violators with known addresses while those with incomplete ones will be coursed through the barangays.
It was upon Longid’s insistence that the task force agreed to go after the violators and make them pay their penalty or face a lawsuit.
Longid told during the recent quarterly meeting of the task force of his concern over the low fine payment rate, especially for the individual violators, a complacency which he said was caused by insufficient follow through action on the city’s end.
“It’s likely that the violators are acquainted with one another and if word got around that nothing happened to one violator after failing to pay the fine, then the other violators will be emboldened to also ignore it so we might as well do something,” Longid said.
As per the POSD’s record of smoke-free violations from June 1, 2019 to Feb. 10, only 625 out of the 3,627 or 17 percent of individual violators paid their fines at the City Treasury Office.
For the establishments, 544 of the 1,152 or 40 percent settled their fines.
“You are expected to comply and pay the said penalty within five working days from receipt of letter. Your refusal to pay or comply with the law within the given period will constrain the city to file appropriate cases and exercise all other legal remedies against you,” the mayor said in the demand letter.
Apart from paying the penalties, violators may avail of community service once as reparation as the task force agreed that an eight-hour community service is equivalent to P1,000, the fine imposed on first offenders.
Community service is done through picking of trash at a designated spot with the supervision of the POSD enforcers or through blood donation. – Aileen P. Refuerzo