Following a series of drowning incidents that killed more than 70 this past Holy Week, Senator Win Gatchalian reiterated his proposal to assign a lifeguard in every public swimming pool or any bathing facilities in the country.
Under Senate Bill No. 1142 or the Lifeguard Act of 2022, each public swimming pool shall employ at least one certified lifeguard during the duration of its entire operations. Pool operators shall employ an additional lifeguard for every 250 square meters of swimming pool. The lifeguards should be duly certified by any nationally recognized organization accredited by the Department of Health (DOH).
The proposed measure requires pool operators to provide local government units (LGUs) with a certification and supporting documents, which will prove the employment or engagement of the required number of certified lifeguards. LGUs, on the other hand, shall ensure the compliance of all public swimming pools through periodic local inspections coordinated by local health officers.
According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), 72 people have died due to drowning as of April 9. The fatalities included children who were left unattended by guardians while swimming in beaches or swimming pools. The PNP is yet to issue a breakdown of the fatalities.
“Nakakalungkot na ang panahong dapat inilalaan natin kasama ang ating mga pamilya ay nauuwi sa trahedya para sa iba. Ngunit maaari nating maiwasan ang mga aksidente ng pagkamatay na dulot ng pagkalunod, kaya naman isinusulong natin ang pagkakaroon ng lifeguard sa mga pampublikong swimming pool upang matiyak ang kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan,” said Gatchalian.
“Safety should always be our topmost priority. We should all work together to minimize the risk. When safety procedures and policies are being implemented effectively, the number of accidents will be reduced,” he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers drowning as a public health challenge. Citing news reports, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said drowning was the second leading cause of death among children aged 5 to 9 in 2021, the sixth leading cause of death among children aged 1 to 4, and the second leading cause of death among children aged 10 to 14.
Of the 879,429 deaths recorded in 2021, 3,604 were due to accidental drowning and submersion. Children aged 1 to 4 had the highest number of drowning deaths at 370, followed by children 5 to 9 years old at 356. There were 330 deaths in the 10 to 14 age group, 258 in the 20 to 24 age group, and 247 in the 15 to 19 age group.