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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

House to pass more bills on protection of women, children & consumers
12 March 2018 10:10:03 PM

The House of Representatives is expected to pass more vital bills for the protection of women, children and consumers before it goes on recess next week.

This was emphasized by Committee on Women and Gender Equality chairperson Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Committee on Welfare of Children chairperson Rep. Divina Grace Yu, Committee on Trade and Industry chairman Rep. Ferjenel Biron, MD, and Association of Women Legislators Foundation, Inc. (AWLFI) spokesperson Rep. Chiqui Roa-Puno during the bimonthly press briefing on Monday.

Herrera-Dy said the House is expected to pass before it goes on recess next week the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill that has been pending on second reading.

“With the pronouncement of the Speaker that we will pass this before recess, I hope that it would progress into that and we will pass the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill,” said Herrera-Dy. The bill extends to 100 days of paid leave, with optional 30 days without pay, the maternity leave from 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarean section.

Other bills being put forward by her committee are the bills strengthening the provisions of the Family Code in the joint administration and enjoyment of the community property and conjugal partnership of spouses; amendment of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 to uphold the rights of women and their well-being, especially in the workplace; and the Electronic Violence against Women (E-VAW) Bill to protect women and children from all forms of electronic violence and obviate any creative legal defense that may be used by violators of the law who manipulate technology to inflict violence against women.

As to the proposed Civil Partnership Act, Herrera-Dy said the committee is currently discussing it since it is a priority measure of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the principal author of the bill.

The committee discussed the bill last January 31, February 12 and 26, and is scheduled to deliberate on it again on March 19. “We’ll see if we can already pass it out of the committee,” she said.

The proposed Civil Partnership Act seeks to grant couples, whether they are of the opposite or the same sex, adequate legal instrument to recognize their partnership, respecting their dignity and recognizing their equality before the law. “So, the main contention is to ensure that it would not be considered as same sex marriage. We are granting and recognizing legal rights of couples who want to enter into a civil partnership,” said Herrera-Dy.

Roa-Puno expressed elation at how the Filipino women have been empowered and gained global recognition for their accomplishments over the years. “I am very proud to know that this year, our standing in the Top 10 countries which have closed the gender gap, is back. We are back in the 10th place. These countries are those whose women and men have slight difference in their health, education, and economic standing and political presence,” said Roa-Puno.

In Congress, Roa-Puno said there are now 86 female legislators compared to only one in 1946 when women started in legislation.

Meanwhile, in terms of child protection, Yu said the House passed and transmitted two important measures to the Senate last year: Magna Carta For Day Care Workers Bill, which provides for the creation of two plantilla positions, the Day Care Worker I and Day Care Worker II, whose occupants will be protected by civil service rules and regulations; and Safe and Non-Hazardous Children’s Products Bill which seeks to regulate the importation, manufacturing, distribution and sale of children’s products which contain hazardous chemicals.

Both bills have their counterpart measures in the Senate, said Yu. “We hope the Senate will already act on them,” said Yu.

Yu said the committee had already passed the proposed Special Protection or Granting Special Protection to Children in Situations of Armed Conflict which aims to prevent children from becoming collateral damage in situations of armed conflict.

The committee is currently deliberating on the following measures: granting benefits to the Junior Citizens similar as those enjoyed by Senior Citizens; codification of alternative care laws to make to make the processes for adoption, fostering, guardianship, and institutional and residential care more efficient; and establishment of Centers for Rehabilitation of Children with Special Needs in the Local Government Units.

Lastly on consumer protection, Biron said among the priority bills of the committee on trade and industry are those requiring fire safety inspection certificate from companies; mandating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to create the “central business portal” and the Philippine Business Data Bank which shall contain all data and information of registered business entities; and strengthening the Civil Service Commission by the institutionalization of anti-red tape units in its central and regional offices.

The committee is also prioritizing the proposed creation of the Anti-Red Tape Advisory Council in place of the National Competitiveness Council; and using the report card survey as basis for the grant of awards, recognition and incentives for excellent delivery of service in all government offices.

Biron said the Senate ratified last Feb. 21 and the House on Feb. 27 the proposed Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018. It is now awaiting President Duterte’s signature.

The bill aims to simplify the permit and licensing system, and most importantly, provide transparency in the government. It aims to finally put an end to red tape and corruption that is hampering the development of both local and foreign businesses in the country. | WBundang/MIP