The time to approve House Bill 4113 or the Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) Bill is now, proponents and advocates of the legislation said during a press conference held on March 8, International Women's Day.
"As we mark International Women's Day today, we call on our representatives in Congress — including the majority floor leader, [Rodolfo] Fariñas — to please support [the bill] and be the EML champion of the respective constituencies. We call them to action and give us a reason to celebrate Women's Month." Shirley Yorong of IndustriALL Women - Philippines said.
"Iregalo niyo na po sa hanay ng mga kababaihan at sa buong sambayanang Pilipino ngayong Women's Month: Expanded Maternity Leave Bill, ipasa niyo na po," Yorong asserted.
The current allowable maternity leave in the Philippines is 60 to 78 days, one of the lowest in Southeast Asia.
House Bill 4112 seeks to increase the maternity leave period to 100 days with pay and an option to extend to an additional 30 days without pay for female workers in the government service and private sector.
The bill also provides that the additional 30 days may be given to the spouse or the guardian of the newborn child.
"Stakeholders agreed that there are more than enough valid and statistically based reasons for improved maternity protection, including increased maternity leaves in the Philippines. In fact, not one questioned the necessity of this legislation for a country where over 200 mothers [per 100,000 live births] die a year due to pregnancy-related causes,"
The bill's economic viability has been questioned, but Yorong said that these concerns have been addressed. "What is missing is in the equation, to this day, is actually the political will to prioritize such measures," Yorong said.
Yorong, however, praised Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy, chairperson of the committee on gender equality, for "reviving the momentum" of the bill that has been stuck on its second reading.
Herrera-Dy during the press conference promoted a corporate social responsibility and that the health of the mother and the child are at the heart of the bill "We want women to be more ready to face the world after they have given birth to the future leaders, future workers, future professionals, the future employees of the country," she said.
"If we ensure that both woman and child are productive members of society, how can we not have a better future ahead of us. We're actually taking care of our country," she continued.
All employees from the public and private sector will benefit from EML, Herrera-Dy assured the press. This includes workers who are paid by the day, provided that they are SSS and PhilHealth members.
Herrera-Dy hope that the bill gets an approval before March 23, a date set by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. — LA, GMA News