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Press Release - Gatchalian pushes 'Lifeguard Act' to curb drowning incidents

Following the start of the dry season when families usually go on outings, Senator Win Gatchalian pushes anew for the passage of the bill that will require public swimming pools and bathing facilities to employ lifeguards to curb drowning incidents.

"Taon-taon na lang, merong tayong nababalitaan na nalunod, lalo na ang mga kabataan. Kaya naman isinusulong natin ang pagkakaroon ng lifeguard sa bawat pampublikong swimming pool upang masugpo natin ang bilang ng mga aksidente o namamatay dahil sa pagkalunod," said Gatchalian.

Under his proposed Lifeguard Act of 2022 (Senate Bill No. 1142), pool operators are mandated to employ at least one certified lifeguard for each public swimming pool which is operated either for commercial purposes or free of charge, including but not limited to pools operated in hotels, inns, motels, condominium buildings, clubhouses, and any other public setting or residential setting other than a single-family home.

Gatchalian added that an additional lifeguard should be employed for every excess area of 250 square meters. These lifeguards must be duly certified by nationally recognized organizations accredited by the Department of Health (DOH).

In 2022, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that 3,576 deaths in the Philippines were due to drowning, with the highest number of cases recorded during March (317), April (391), and May (345). The World Health Organization also reported that drowning is one of the top five leading causes of death among children aged one to 14.

The proposed measure mandates pool operators to provide local government units (LGUs) with certifications and supporting documents to prove their engagement with the required number of lifeguards. LGUs, on the other hand, shall ensure the compliance of all public swimming pools. They should also conduct periodic local inspections coordinated by Local Health Officers, or other personnel deemed fit for the assignment. LGUs shall approve the permits of pool operators upon verification of certification and other supporting documents.

In the event of serious injury or death in a public swimming pool, pool operators who fail to employ the required number of lifeguards