MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading a measure prohibiting the active use and display of commercial billboards during typhoons.
The chamber passed through voice voting House Bill 7174, or the proposed Bawal Billboard Tuwing Bagyo Act, which aims to mitigate the risk of billboard-related accidents during typhoons.
Under the bill, all advertising materials shall be automatically taken down by the billboard operator within 12 hours from an official announcement or release of a Typhoon Signal No. 1 bulletin, or any other significant weather disturbance by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The prohibition shall be in effect for the duration of the weather disturbance.
Any operator who violates the provisions will be subject to a fine of not less than PHP300,000 or imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than one year, upon the discretion of the court.
Deputy Speaker Eddie Villanueva, author of the bill, said while a total ban on billboards would be economically unfeasible given the amount of revenue and jobs that it generates, especially in the advertising field, a step forward in the regulation of billboards is the prohibition on its active use during a calamity or severe weather disturbance.
"In line with this, this bill aims to prevent billboards from becoming a safety hazard by requiring billboard operators to take down their tarpaulin billboards, or switch-off electronic based billboards within 12 hours from an official announcement of typhoon Signal No. 1 in the locality,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva noted that the Philippines is visited by around 20 typhoons every year, costing billions of pesos in damages, as well as people's lives.
“Billboards are undeniably a mark of a progressing economy. However, public safety should not be compromised. As our country is frequented by typhoons, strict regulation of billboard use must be done to safeguard people and properties,” he said. (PNA)