City Council to shops: Translate foreign signs in English or Cebuano

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The Cebu City Council has passed an ordinance regulating the use of foreign words in the signage, signboard, and/or billboards of business establishments within the city.

Councilor Lea Japson, author of the measure, requires businesses to translate foreign-language signs into English or Cebuano.

There is a need for signage, signboards, and billboards written in any foreign language to have a translation into English or in Cebuano words in pursuant to the National Building Code of the Philippines and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations more particularly in Rule XX, Section 2001 paragraph 2, said Japson.

According to the 2015 census, Cebu City has a population of 922,611 people, which makes it the fifth-most populated city in the nation, and most populous in the Visayas. (

“The proliferation of these signage, signboards, and billboards with foreign wordings, if not regulated, will endanger the uniqueness of our city and our community and will constitute a nuisance,” the city councilor said.

Under Section 2 of the ordinance, it is declared policy by the City Government of Cebu in its relation with the owners of business establishment whether Filipino or foreign nationals to give paramount consideration to the local autonomy, interest, and the right to self-determination for its general inhabitants.

Such provision applies to all business establishments whose signages are written in a foreign language within the jurisdiction of the City of Cebu, as stated in Section 4.

Violators will be fined P1,000 for the first offense; P3,000 for the second offense; and a fine of not more than P5,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year or both such fine at the discretion of the court.