Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Saturday urged the House of Representatives anew to prioritize its counterpart measure on extended maternity leave, stressing that the Philippines had been lagging behind its neighbors in the Southeast Asian region in terms of paid leaves for working mothers.
In a press briefing in Quezon City, the lawmaker, along with several labor groups, rallied for greater support for the proposed 120 days extended maternity leave, which was already approved in the Senate.
Hontiveros underscored the Philippines’ dismal record on the benefits for mothers compared to its nations in the region as the country played host to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.
“Filipino mothers and women are not asking for vacation, but for a recognition of their unique role of bringing life,” she said. “They should have the opportunity to take care of their children and of themselves without having to worry about the economic costs.”
Approved in March, the Extended Maternity Leave Act or Senate Bill No. 1305 grants female workers 120 days paid maternity leave, with an option to extend for an unpaid month.
Solo parents will be allowed a total of 150 days paid leave, while maternity protection will be granted for female athletes.
The bill had languished for 25 years in the legislature before its approval in the Senate this year.
Diwa party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar sponsored a similar measure, but only with a 100-day leave.
Under the Social Security Act of 1997, or Republic Act No. 1161, mothers are entitled to only 60 to 78 paid working leaves.
Other Southeast Asian nations provide longer maternity leaves. Vietnam grants 120 to 180 paid days, while Singapore provides 112 days. Ninety days are granted for working mothers in Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.
“Giving birth is not easy, so our law on maternity leaves should not be lightweight,” Hontiveros said. “If women’s health prospers, businesses and the economy will progress, too.”
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