I went to watch a film in a movie house in our province. I was really disappointed because of the overcrowding. Some customers were even asked to sit on the aisles and walkways of the theater. Is there any law violated by the owner of the movie house?
The law that addresses your question is Section 8 (E) of Republic Act (RA) 9514 or the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008. Section 8 (E) of RA 9514 states:
“Section 8. Prohibited Acts. – The following are declared as prohibited acts and omissions.”
“(e) Overcrowding or admission of persons beyond the authorized capacity in movie houses, theaters, coliseums, auditoriums or other public assembly buildings, except in other assembly areas on the ground floor with open sides or open doors sufficient to provide safe exits;
Any violation of the above-mentioned law shall be meted with a penalty pursuant to its Sections 9 and 11, which read:
“Section 9. Violation, Penalties and Abatement of Fire Hazard. – Fire hazards shall be abated immediately. The chief, BFP [Bureau of Fire Protection] or his/her duly authorized representative, upon the report that a violation of this code or other pertinent laws, rules and regulations is being committed, shall issue notice/order to comply to the owner, administrator, occupant or other person responsible for the condition of the building or structure, indicating among other things, the period within which compliance shall be effected, which shall be within ten (10) to fifteen (15) days after the receipt of the notice/order, depending on the reasonableness to adequately comply with the same.”
“Section 11. Penalties. –
1. Against the private individual:
a) Administrative fine – Any person who violates any provision of the Fire Code or any of the rules and regulations promulgated under this Act shall be penalized by an administrative fine of not exceeding Fifty thousand (P50,000.00) pesos or in the proper case, by stoppage of operations or by closure of such buildings, structures and their premises or facilities which do not comply with the requirements or by both such administrative fine and closure/stoppage of operation to be imposed by the Chief, BFP.” x x x.
It is clear from the provisions stated above that it is unlawful to admit persons in a movie house or theater beyond its capacity. The overcrowding in a public establishment such as this is a fire risk, and it can be detrimental to the safety of the public. The owner of the public establishment who shall be held liable of committing any act prohibited under the law shall be meted with a penalty of a fine or the business establishment be ordered closed, depending on the discretion of the court.
In your situation, since the movie house you went into admitted persons beyond its maximum capacity and allowed overcrowding, the owner of the movie house is evidently in violation of the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008, and may subject him/her to a penalty of fine or the movie house may be ordered closed, depending on the discretion of the court.
We find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com.