Gabriela solons to Duterte: Sign expanded maternity bill now

Feb. 19, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representative Arlene Brosas has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the expanded maternity bill that will provide women who are working in public and private institutions and informal sectors 105 days of paid maternity leave.

Brosas said the measure is already “long overdue” and that the President should regard the cries of expectant mothers lest he further asserts himself as anti-women and anti-worker.

The expanded maternity leave measure was first filed by Gabriela Partylist in 2007.

Brosas also expressed fear of misleading computation being floated by the Social Security System (SSS) that might influence Duterte to veto the bill.

Business groups have also made some calls for the veto of the measure based on the computation presented by the SSS.

Brosas said the SSS computation is exaggerated, saying that the measure has already gone through exhaustive deliberations involving all agencies and stakeholders concerned, including the SSS.

The SSS recently itemized its strong objection to the measure as it warned that the implementation of the law would entail a minimum P6.4 billion additional expenditures.

“The so-called PHP6.4 billion price tag of expanded maternity leave is way off the mark. Tandaan natin na karamihan ng SSS members ay minimum wage earners kaya mababa lang talaga ang salary credit, bukod sa less than 10 percent lang talaga ang nag-aavail ng maternity leave sa kasalukuyan (Let us be reminded that majority of SSS members are minimum wage earners with low salary credits. Less than 10 percent of them currently avail of their maternity leave),” Brosas emphasized.

In the same statement, Gabriela Partylist Representative Emmi de Jesus also asked Duterte to sign the measure now and disregard the baseless points raised by those who posed opposition to the bill.

She also emphasized that the bill is vital to the health and welfare of women workers in the country.

De Jesus, who sat as one of the bicameral conferees on the measure said the President should not gratify to fake news on the supposed huge costs presented by SSS.

“Hindi pwedeng gamitin ang kapalpakalan ng SSS na mangolekta ng contributions sa employers para hindi isabatas ang expanded maternity leave (The failures of SSS should not be used as a basis to collect contributions from the employers and eventually pose an objection to the expanded maternity bill). Instead of floating the cost, why not find ways to plug the leaks at SSS by improving the collection rate and dispose of costly idle assets?” De Jesus pointed out.

She said the SSS’s incompetence to accumulate mandatory contributions from employers should not be used as a reason to reject the bill.(Hershey Matugas, HCDC intern/

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