BAGUIO CITY — The Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force has agreed to accept blood donations as a form of community service in lieu of monetary fines paid in violation of the city’s smoke-free ordinance.
As the task force noted that a large number of violators fail to settle their fines, it agreed that first offenders, who are usually imposed a P1,000 fine, may opt to render an eight-hour community service, under which blood donations to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) are counted.
The first violator to opt for blood donation went to the PRC-Baguio on 4 February to donate his type A blood after he was caught vaping last 3 February by community enforcers at Barangay T. Alonzo.
It was upon the insistence of Daryll Longid, security officer of the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) enforcement unit, that the task force should go after non-paying violators and make them pay their penalties or else face lawsuits.
During the recent quarterly meeting of the task force, Longid said that insufficient follow-through actions on the city’s end has allowed individual violators to be complacent on non-payment of fines.
“It’s likely that the violators are acquainted with one another and if word got around that nothing happened to one violator after failing to pay the fine, then the other violators will be emboldened to also ignore it, so we might as well do something,” Longid said.
As per the POSD’s record of smoke-free violations from 1 June 2019 to 10 February 2020, only 17 percent of individual violators have paid their fines at the City Treasury Office while among establishments, only 40 percent were able to settle fines.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has already issued notices of non-payment of fines through demand letters which were delivered starting 14 February by the POSD enforcement unit to hundreds of violators with known addresses, while those with incomplete addresses will be coursed through the barangays.
Other forms of community service include picking up trash at a designated spot under the supervision of the POSD enforcers.