Defensor pushes for bills to increase access to beaches, protect tourists

By , on May 11, 2015

Veteran Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (Facebook photo)
Veteran Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (Facebook photo)

MANILA — A lawmaker is pushing for a number of bills aimed at promoting tourism while protecting the traveling public.

According to Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, access to shorelines and other coastal areas is impeded by conflicting laws and overlapping jurisdiction.

She added that this led to absence of clear regulations regarding the use and management of marine and coastal resources; poor zoning and planning; and weak enforcement of public access rights.

Through filing the Public Beach Bill (Senate Bill No. 2732), Santiago said that LGUs will be required to draw rights-of-way to shorelines or coastal areas open to the public, and put up conspicuous signs for public beaches.

She added that it will also prohibit anyone from hindering access to identified public beaches; from dumping wastes and quarrying in such areas; and from removing, obstructing, or vandalizing public beach signs.

“There should be universal beach access with due consideration to private property rights and without compromising conservation efforts and coastal management programs,” the senator said.

Aside from the Public Beach Bill, Santiago has also filed the First Aid in Resorts Bill (S.B. No. 2733), which seeks to increase penalties for resorts that fail to provide one lifeguard per 20 meters of shoreline, and first aid personnel, supplies, and equipment.

In her Lifeguard Bill (S.B. No. 2678), Santiago wants owners of pools and other aquatic facilities to hire one lifeguard for every 250 square meters of pool area. Such lifeguards should man the pool during all hours of operation.

She said that it is incumbent upon the government to ensure the safety of tourists, both local and foreign, especially with the increasing number of travelers.

The senator is also campaigning against the practice of harassing tourists into buying local products by filing the Anti-Tourism Harassment Bill (S.B. No. 2727).

She said that it was about time the responsible marketing among local vendors and service providers are encouraged to curb the practice of repeatedly soliciting business from unwilling tourists.