People who spit in public may soon get more than just dirty stares if a House bill to make it a crime is passed into law.
Under House Bill 5901 filed by Alliance of Volunteer Educators party-list Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay, spitting in public carries a penalty of six months in jail and a fine.
First-time offenders will be made to pay P500, with fines going up to P2,000 for the third offense. They will also have to attend a seminar under the Department of Health.
“While anti-spitting laws have been in existence in a number of jurisdictions like Singapore, India, Malaysia, and China, only Davao City has vigorously implemented a similar law in the country since 2010,” he said. The Metro Manila Development Authority tried to ban spitting in public amid a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) scare in 2003 but it is still a common practice.
The measure is meant to curb the spread of tuberculosis, hepatitis, and other diseases.
Citing a World Health Organization report, the lawmaker said around 75 Filipinos die of tuberculosis each day. “Mycobacterism tubercolosis, the bacteria which causes TB, can survive in a dried state for weeks up to eight months. Spitting has been identified as one of the factors in the spread of TB,” he said.
According to the DOH website, TB is the sixth leading cause of illness and the sixth leading cause of death in the Philippines. A National TB Program is trying to detect at least 70 percent of active TB cases and cure at least 85 percent of those cases. The program “will eventually result to the decline of the TB problem in the Philippines,” DOH said.
A counterpart bill has yet to be filed at the Senate.