By Ellson Quismorio
Administration and opposition lawmakers on Monday renewed their call for the passage of House Bill (HB) No.4113, which bats for expanded maternity leave benefits for female workers in both the public and private sectors.
Bagong Henerasyon (BH) Party-List Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy and Ifugao lone district Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. in a press conference underscored the significance of the measure, which carries the short title, “100-day Maternity Leave Law.”
“The struggle is real–the uphill battle to pass a bill on expanded maternity protection has already spanned several Congresses. I strongly believe that this 17th Congress, we will finally see it to fruition,” said Herrera-Dy, who chairs the Committee on Women and Gender Equality.
“During the advocacy event on maternity protection we conducted last March 5, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez stated his support for the passage of the bill. This demonstrated Congress leadership’s recognition of the importance of optimal maternal and child health as legislative priorities,” the supermajority solon said.
Baguilat, de facto leader of House opposition bloc, the “Magnificent Seven,” said he wants to dispel the prevailing fear among mothers that they would lose opportunities at work if they avail of the longer maternity leave as provided under HB No.4113.
“Allow me to highlight the significance of local support in ensuring the implementation of this bill when it is passed as law. As a former local chief executive, I know very well the impact of strong leadership in institutionalizing gender-responsive policies and programs throughout the LGU (local government unit),” said the former Ifugao governor.
The Philippines is said to have the fewest days for maternity leave in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The current law allows women who had normal child delivery only 60 days of maternity leave, and 78 days if the birth is by caesarian section (CS). These numbers are way below the recommended minimum maternity leave of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 98 days.
As its short title suggests, HB No.4113 expands the existing maternity leave to 100 days with pay, while granting an option to avail of a 30-day extension without pay.
The measure has already hurdled the committee level and is pending second reading approval at the House plenary. However, session dates in the current second regular session are dwindling fast, with both Chambers of Congress (House and Senate) set to adjourn sine die on March 23.
Proponents want the bill passed on third and final reading before this date. Incidentally, Women’s Month is being celebrated this March.
“Let us end the struggle and give our women the maternity protection they rightfully deserve,” Herrera-Dy said.
Herrera-Dy and Baguilat are both members of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee in Population and Development (PLCPD).