Press Release
January 23, 2019


Sponsorship Speech on the Prohibited Acts of Discrimination Against Women on Account of Sex Bill by Senator Joel Villanueva

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it is my honor to sponsor Committee Report No. 555 containing Senate Bill No. 892 that expands the prohibited acts of discrimination against women on account of sex in the workplace.

Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa ating seatmate at masipag na kaibigan natin, Senator JV Ejercito, sa kanyang pagpupursige bilang principal author ng panukalang ito at sa kanyang sensitibidad sa pangangailangan ng sektor ng kababaihan.

Nagbago na nga raw po ang panahon, Mr. President, at hindi na lamang pambahay ang mga kababaihan ngayon. Hindi naman po ito nakapagtataka.

If we come to think of it, considering the demands of the cultural, social, political and economic situations we are in today, it becomes necessary indeed, na hindi na lamang po maging pambahay ang ating mga kababaihan ngayon.

Ito po ay napansin at napatunayan na ng Meralco noon pang 2013, when they started hiring and pioneered training female linewomen.

In Meralco's 110-year history, the utility pole has been an exclusive space for men. This practice ended in June 2013 when Meralco partnered with us, during the time when I was still in TESDA, for a technical instruction program for linewomen. I remember 12 women joined the first batch of trainees.

Isa po sa kanila si Argie Dulos mula sa Cavite at nagtapos ng Electrical Engineering Technology sa RTU. Nang magsimula po ang training, alas-dos pa lang ng umaga, bumibyahe na siya papuntang Maynila para sa training na halos katumbas ng military training program.

Mahirap po ang training at trabaho sa itaas ng may limampung talampakang poste na hugpungan ng mga high voltage wire. Pero sa kanilang pagpupursige, naka-graduate at nakapagtrabaho si Argie kasama ang iba pang kababaihan bilang mga kauna-unahang linewomen ng Meralco.

Ang sabi po noon ni Ginoong Ramon Segismundo, then Meralco Senior Vice President and Head of Human Resources, and I quote:

"It's a paradigm shift. We would like to challenge the gender assumptions of the power utility industry. Because our work culture at Meralco is one of excellence and innovation and that is certainly not gender sensitive. Our female colleagues have a lot to do with our success as much as their male counterparts."

End quote.

Mr. President, times indeed have changed. Our present-day society is characterized by a culture of excellence and innovation. It is inclusive, gender equitable, and merit-based.

This indeed requires a paradigm shift. This set-up renders old-fashioned gender role stereotypes antiquated. It demands an overhaul of the structures of partnership between sexes towards greater collaboration and mutuality.

Sa praktikal na buhay kitang-kita po at alam na alam natin kung paanong kadalasa'y kailangan talagang kapwa magtrabaho ang nanay at ang tatay upang maitawid ang mga pangangailangan ng pamilya.

Katotohanang dumarami po ngayon ang tinatawag nating "houseband". Alam nating sa iba't-ibang kadahilanan, marami na po ang mga pagkakataong mas madaling makahanap ng trabaho si Misis kesa kay Mister, o kaya, mas malaki ang kikinikita ni Misis kesa kay Mister.

Bigla ko pong naisip na siguro pagkatapos ko pong pag-aralin ang anak kong babae na si Gwynnie, halos imposible pong asahan kong piliin niyang maging plain housewife, at hindi rin po ako papayag ng ganun, maliban na lamang po kung ito ay kanyang piliin.

The emergence of the career woman revolutionizes gender roles and the structures of society and its institutions. Dahil career woman si nanay kailangang saluhin ni tatay ang ilang traditional domestic duties ni nanay. Dahil hindi sapat ang kita ni tatay kailangan ding kumayod si nanay.

It is our task in government to ensure that social structures promote justice and equity. It is our duty to root unjust, abusive, and discriminatory elements out of our social structures.

This is easier said than done. There is no magic wand to wave or wish this dilemma away. We are into numerous efforts to untangle issues of justice, equality, and discrimination. It becomes even more colourful when it comes to anything that pertains to the structures of partnership, collaboration, and mutuality between sexes.

Today, we make another attempt to meaningfully address this issue, and thus seek to amend the Labor Code of the Philippines by expanding the prohibited acts of discrimination against women on account of sex, assuring our people that their welfare is our utmost concern.

It is in this context that Senate Committee on Labor have worked long and hard to arrive at Committee Report No. 555 containing Senate Bill No. 892.

This bill seeks -

1. To prohibit favouring male employees over female employees with respect to assignment, dismissal of personnel or the application of any retrenchment policy of the employer solely on the account of their sexes.

2. To prohibit denying any woman the benefits of employment or other statutory benefits under our laws by reason of her sex.

Nakakadinig na po tayo ng ilang reklamo gaya ng hindi sila matanggap dahil naturally pupuwede silang mabuntis or hihingi ng maternity leave.

3. To penalize the commission of any prohibited acts with a fine of up to Php50,000, in addition to penalties already provided by law.

4. To clarify that conviction or acquittal by the employer of any act prohibited in this bill shall not bar the female employee from filing a civil suit for the payment of salaries or benefits due her.

5. And lastly, to provide liability in the same manner as the employer, to any employee or person who wilfully aids or abets in the commission of the acts prohibited under this bill, or who causes the commission of any such acts by another.

Mr. President, the 2017 Gender Statistics on Labor and Employment shows that the huge Men-Women Labor Force Participation Rate Gap in our country insignificantly improves from 33.1 in 1998 to 28.3 in 2016 in favour of men.

It is very timely, and it is with utmost concern for the welfare of our people, that we humbly ask this chamber for the swift passage of this measure.

Again, thank you very much and may God bless us all.

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