MANILA — A lawmaker has filed a measure mandating the employment of qualified lifeguards at all public swimming pools and bathing facilities to protect the public especially the children.
Rep. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (1st District, Valenzuela City) said House Bill 5378 seeks to establish a formula based on World Health Organization standards for the number of lifeguards required to be on-duty at all times at public swimming pools.
Gatchalian filed the bill citing a 2009 report, which identified drowning as the second leading cause of death among Filipino children.
“Drowning rates among children have remained at the same level for decades, indicating that it is an issue that has been inadequately addressed by public policy,” Gatchalian said.
The measure, to be known as “Lifeguard Law of 2015,” mandates strict enforcement of the lifeguard requirement by the Department of Health, Gatchalian said.
Under the measure, each public swimming pool shall employ at least one certified lifeguard for every 250 square meters of pool during all hours of operation and shall be duly certified by any nationally recognized organization accredited by the DOH.
The pool operator shall provide the appropriate local government unit (LGU) with a certification and supporting documents proving that he or she has hired and is currently employing the required amount of certified lifeguards at the pool.
The LGU shall ensure the compliance of all public swimming pools through periodic local inspections coordinated by the Local Health Officers, or other personnel as it may see fit to assign.
The LGUs shall not approve or renew the operating permit of the pool unless it has verified the certification and supporting documents needed.
The measure increases the criminal liabilities of pool operators who fail to comply with the requirement, and penalizes negligent lifeguards whose actions, or lack, resulted in the death of serious injury of persons.
A pool operator who fails to employ the required number of lifeguards shall pay P20,000 fine and the operating permit of the facility suspended for a period of sixty days.
Likewise, the operator shall pay P50,000 as fine and the operating permit suspended for 120 days for the second violation.
Upon the third violation, the operator shall pay a fine of P100,000 and the operating permit revoked.
In the event of serious injury or death of any person as a result of the use of the pool facilities, in the absence of an employed lifeguard, the operator shall pay P200,000 and be sentenced to six months of imprisonment.
Any on-duty lifeguard who through gross negligence or imprudence fails to protect said person from injury or death shall pay P200,000 fine and sentenced to one year of imprisonment.
The pool operator and the lifeguard shall be held jointly and solidarily liable for any civil liabilities imposed as a result of the negligent or imprudent act.
The LGU official responsible for the inspection of the pool facility shall be held administratively liable if the pool facility was able to continue its operations due to refusal, omission, or neglect to fulfill his or her duty.