It’s final. P3 million has been allotted for a public comfort station.
“Won’t it be considered extravagant to spend that much for the construction of a comfort station?” Councilor Peter Maristela asked the City Council’s appropriations committee members at a hearing for the 2017 supplemental budget Wednesday, November 8.
Despite Maristela’s apprehension, the committee approved the P225.5-million supplemental budget, which includes P6 million for two public comfort stations at City Baywalk, P3 million for one station at Mendoza Park, and P4 million for one station at Honda Bay.
These planned structures drew criticism among local netizens this week after the City Council initially approved it as part of the 2017 Supplemental Annual Investment Program (AIP), a list containing projects considered for funding.
“We are claiming to host a world class destination and yet we don’t have decent public comfort stations, not only for the visitors but for the local residents enjoying these places,” City Planning and Development Officer, Engr. Jovenee Sagun said, justifying its inclusion.
Maristela earlier criticized the budget for the toilet construction as “a bit expensive” for such kind of facility. “To justify the appropriation, probably we need to see the designs for us to know how we’ve come up with millions of estimated value for each comfort station,” he said.
The City Engineering Office did not disclose the design to the media, saying this will be presented first to the City Council’s appropriations committee. Engr. Aries Grande, acting assistant city engineer, presented the floor plan of the one-storey comfort station covering 140 square meters.
For Baywalk and Mendoza Park, the men’s comfort room will have eight urinals and three toilet cubicles, while the women’s comfort room will have eight toilet cubicles and a powder area. Both men’s and women’s comfort rooms have a wash area, a shower room, a dressing room, and a janitor’s room.
For Honda Bay, the men’s comfort room will have eight urinals, two toilet cubicles, two shower rooms and a dressing room. Meanwhile, the women’s comfort room will have five toilet cubicles, three shower rooms, two dressing rooms and a powder area. Both have a wash area and a janitor’s room.
All public comfort stations will also be air-conditioned and will have urinal sensors and faucets and a lobby. Also, they have two cubicles for male persons with disabilities and another two cubicles for female PWDs, all with a wash area.
Answering Maristela’s question, Sagun said “the price is reasonable,” considering their estimated construction cost per square meter of P25,000.
“The P3 million may sound expensive but they’re just right,” she said.
Sagun added: “It is fitting for us to have such kind of facilities, given Puerto Princesa’s status as a highly urbanized city and a premier destination in the Philippines. We’re already a disgrace for not having a presentable public comfort room.”
While the use of toilet cubicles and urinals are free, shower rooms are not, except when there are city government activities.
The planning officer said the shower rooms could in turn be added as the city government’s income generating project. “We will ask them to pay a fee since they will use water, except at Honda Bay which is a tourist destination,” she said.
Sagun cited the public comfort stations in Baguio City’s Burnham Park, adding they will check its rate as Puerto Princesa’s baseline. “But it still depends on its operation and management,” she added.
The 2017 supplemental budget will be presented to the City Council for approval on Monday, Nov. 13.