Briones: Much ado about parking

Publio Briones

I WOULD like to share what a friend posted on Facebook.

Starting on Jan. 20, 2020, this mall in the northern part of Cebu City will start charging customers P30 for parking at its open areas. The rate applies to both motorcycles and cars.

Hmm. I thought the Consumer Act of the Philippines required owners of shopping malls, hotels and restaurants to provide parking spaces FREE OF CHARGE for their guests.

I mean, can you imagine paying to park at one of the many fastfood joints in the metro?

The law “safeguards consumers and sets standards of ethical conduct for business and industry,” said Catanduanes Rep. Joseph Santiago way back in 2006.

The lawmaker authored House Bill (HB) 2691, which forbade shopping centers, hotels, commercial arcades and similar establishments from charging fees for the use of parking facilities or spaces within their premises.

His bill sought to amend the Building Code, which requires establishments to provide adequate parking spaces, but does not explicitly state whether these should be free of charge.

To be honest, I didn’t bother to look up what happened to Santiago’s proposal. Obviously, nothing came of it. Obviously.

Two years ago, Sen. JV Ejercito filed the Parking Space Regulation Act of 2018 that aims to standardize parking rates.

According to his proposal, the standard parking fee will be P40 for the first eight hours and an additional P10 for the succeeding hour. There will be a one-time fee of P100 for overnight parking and a 30-minute grace period for parkers.

Most importantly, the bill prohibits establishments from invoking a waiver of liability. In other words, establishments will be responsible for whatever happened to vehicles parked in their parking spaces.

In July last year, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers filed HB 506, or the proposed “Parking Fees Regulation Act,” which “provides that shopping malls, hospitals, schools, hotels and similar establishments shall provide parking spaces for their customers free of charge.”

But then his bill went on to state that for establishments that do impose parking fees, the fees shall be waived once a customer presents a validated proof of purchase or payment of not less than P500.

If you find yourself scratching your head in mild confusion, well you and me both.

Barbers wants establishments to provide free parking for customers but he also tolerates those that already do. He can’t have it both ways. Or can he?

It seems the public is made to suffer for the government’s inability to make up its mind.

Then last November, Secretary Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued a memorandum order, enjoining local government units to stop using public roadsides as parking spaces in line with the presidential directive to clear all public roads of obstruction.

Seriously? The matter on parking fees hasn’t even been settled and now this?