MANILA - A bill seeking to ban spitting and expelling mucus in public has been filed in the Senate, following the rise in number of COVID-19 patients in the Philippines.
Under Sen. Manny Pacquiao's Senate Bill No. 1406 or the proposed "Anti-Spitting Act of 2020," individuals who would spit or "intentionally" expel "saliva, phlegm, or mucus" in public would be fined between P5,000 and P50,000.
Scientific findings earlier showed that the new strand of the coronavirus - which originated from Wuhan, China - can be transmitted among humans through the transfer of bodily fluid from one person to another.
"Considering the gravity of the situation, there is an urgent need to institute a concrete preventive measure to stop the spread of the disease that has become a global health emergency," Pacquiao said in the bill's explanatory note.
"This shall not only prevent the spread of the coronavirus and [but also] other contagious and airborne diseases," he said.
Under the proposed law, offenders who will be apprehended for the first time will be charged with a P5,000 fine, while second-time offenders will be mandated to pay P10,000.
A third offense will warrant a P50,000 penalty and attendance in a Department of Health seminar or up to 6 months of imprisonment.
The bill was filed on March 9, 2020, the same day the Philippines declared a state of health emergency due to the spread of the COVID-19 in the capital region and nearby provinces.
As of March 13, 52 people in the country have contracted the disease. Five have died, 2 recovered, while the rest are still confined in hospitals.
President Rodrigo Duterte said Metro Manila will be placed on a month-long community quarantine starting on March 15, 2020 to stop the virus from spreading to other parts of the Philippines.
The World Health Organization has described the disease as a pandemic after it killed nearly 5,000 people and infected some 110,000 others worldwide.