Press Release
August 16, 2022

Highlights of Senator Pia Cayetano's manifestation in session
On the hybrid work setup - privilege speech of Sen Grace Poe

With the permission of our colleague, I would like to share some information that I've been working on, some studies that I have. I'll proceed, your honors.

Mr. President, I am so excited, sa title pa lang of the privilege speech, nagpa-palpitate na ako at mga staff ko. The future of work, that is one of the categories that I had intended to prioritize in my committee, the Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.

In fact, your honors, I am happy to share that the Senate initiated a budget, I think for almost three years, for DAP, Development Academy of the Philippines, wherein they provide courses for public employees. I haven't taken the course, but I regularly attend online seminars. My Chief of Staff and three others are about to conclude a course in DAP, it's a certificate course on foresight and futures thinking. And their thesis is actually on the futures of work. So I'll just share some tidbits of that. I am actually not as familiar as my staff because they are the ones going to class for 3-6 months.

Anyway, your honor, what I'd like to share is when I saw the news about the issue on the back-to-work order for PEZA, these are particularly employees in PEZA-registered companies, it was something that I was following intently on because I am the author of the CREATE Law.

On the other hand, I also chaired the Committee on Women and Family Relations, and obviously, like her honor, I am [an advocate of] women, mothers, and wives. So I saw with my own eyes, I experienced on my own, the benefits of working from home. And what I'd like to spread into the record is that women are known to be the unpaid workers of society. I think I included this in my tribute to the late Prime Minister Abe where he crafted the term "Womenomics" and recognized the contribution of women.

Women are unpaid workers at home. They do not get paid for their contribution to the family's wellbeing. Wala silang work that is considered as part of the GNP, your honor. So, now with the work from home, many had that opportunity that they can now contribute in a way that is recognized by economic standards. So to be clear, ang trabaho nila na nag-aalaga ng pamilya niya, nagpapakain ng baby, nagbe-breastfeed, nagluluto para sa asawa, naglalaba - those are work. But until this day, they are considered unpaid work. But now, with work from home, they can actually be paid, be in the social security system, contribute and pay taxes, and so on and so forth.

So the one thing I like about work from home is it gives women this opportunity. The second thing is, it also gives men an opportunity to be fathers or husbands who work from home.

So we can go on and on about these benefits, and I join her honor in not just requesting that we review the implementation of the telecommuting law, but also have a hearing on that specific provision in the CREATE Law because I being the author does not mean that I will stand by it, that we should not amend it.

What I want to say is the future is right in front of us. And I am so happy that her honor made it simple for us to see the timeline of the changes. And change is happening now as we speak. How do we define work?

I really had a question and I was discussing it with my team. Is it time that we redefine work and not be constrained by the physical boundaries that we created? Because the law that her honor pointed out really defined geographical boundaries, and there is a reason for that. Because when PEZA was created, the intention was to have specific benefits in that particular location. But even during discussions on CREATE, and I can take this up another time, clearly the intention was to incentivize work in various areas regardless if it was in a PEZA zone or not, and to incentivize particular kinds of work, again, regardless if it is in a geographically defined area such as PEZA or not. So why could that not happen in someone's home?

So that's the first point I want to make. Her honor can reply or not. But she's been nodding, her nodding will not be recorded unless I say that she's been nodding the whole time...

So far, that's what I wanted to point out, tthat I am open to that law being revisited. Although that law was tackled in the Committee on Ways and Means, I leave it up to the Committee on Rules to discuss with the various Chairpersons if doon ba natin idi-discuss yun, pwede naman, pwede naman sa labor, like I said. It's a very strong issue for women, pwede rin sa futures of work, sa Committee on SDGs.. I am making myself available to discuss this.

Second point I want to make, her honor mentioned the kind of savings that were made by people who decided to work from home. She pointed out yung natipid nila sa restaurants, commuting, of course. And I understand that, because I think no one will argue that our transportation system is not that efficient, di ba?

I have in my own home, when lockdown happened, my youngest daughter was still a football player in UP, so three of her teammates moved in to live with me, and [they] still live with me. Dati, yung lockdown pa, nagko-coaching sila online, so kain sa bahay ko, training online, walang gastos. Walang transpo. But now, lahat yun lalabas, they have to eat when they go out and so on and so forth.

So I totally understand what her honor is saying. But interestingly, if we look at the picture overall, yung natipid sa commute, I don't think that's refutable, because you stayed at home. Pero yung pagkain, may gastos pa rin yun. And let's be realistic, will they have time to cook at home? Maybe. Again, if one of them is the stay-at-home parent, when I say stay at home, they do the household work, but otherwise, they'll probably buy somewhere else, so nagmu-move lang naman ang sources of food and who is earning the income.

So it's possible na matamaan ang business district kasi nagsara doon, hindi bumalik ang mga employees. Pero doon naman nag-boom ang maliliit na karinderya, or easy-to-grab food near the residential area. So I just wanted to paint a balanced picture na they are still going to eat. So maybe nag-boom ang palengke, maybe nag-boom ang style delicatesse, luto na, karinderya. Turo-turo. So nagshi-shift lang naman yun. I am just saying na meron din naman sigurong ibang kumikita, which is good.

And for the same reason, I don't have the article with me now, but you will recall that then Sec. Karl Chua of NEDA gave us a figure in one of the hearings. [Quotes article] "The economy will gain 12 billion pesos weekly from resuming in-person classes, benefiting transport and restaurant sectors," said Karl Chua. "The closures mean 11 trillion pesos in future productivity losses."

So I used schools as an example, pero trabaho din naman yun ng iba doon, yung pumapasok sa school, either teachers or non-teaching personnel. So affected lahat ng informal economy that goes on there. So this privilege speech is so important.

I think my last point, your honor, is to mention the digital nomads. I had the opportunity to chat with a foreigner who spent some time in Cebu. There is a big expat or foreign community that works there. He was telling me that the community in Chiang Mai [Thailand] is so much bigger. And all it really takes is number one, great internet, and then the basics that support the life of a young person - so places to eat, entertainment, friends, places to stay. And they are digital nomads, because they move around. So we're not even talking about work from home. So parang ganyan ang nae-envision ko when I think of Siargao and La Union. My daughter's best friend spent how many months in Siargao and how many months in La Union. Her work had nothing to do with the beach or the sunset. She is actually working for a startup company, but she is able to work that way. So we're not even talking about work from home, we are talking about work from the beach, from the beautiful beaches in the country.

So I end my interpellation there as I promised her honor. I am not really going to ask questions, I am just going to share my insights, with the idea that we further look into this. Specifically, that provision in the CREATE Law, I am very open to revisiting that, your honor.

Mr President, before I take my seat, can I just point out, because I want to ensure that my committee has relevance, I just want to point out the interrelated sustainable development goals that are covered by the privilege speech of her honor.

So obviously, number one, which is No Poverty (SDG1). When women, and for that matter, families have work, we reduce poverty.

Good Health and Wellbeing /(SDG 3), her honor said that a lot of them had more time to take care of themselves, of their bodies. And alam natin, it is documented that long travels, staying in the traffic so long, causes so much stress. It affects their mental wellbeing so SDG 3 is on good health and wellbeing.

SDG 5 is Gender Equality, I won't say anymore other than women are given more opportunity to work and attain their personal goals and full potential if we are more flexible with work. So that's SDG 5.

SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth. I genuinely am a believer that given more flexibility, there will be more work available to our workforce. And that's SDG 8.

SDG 10, Reduced Inequalities, basically the same reason.

SDG 11, which is Sustainable Cities and Communities. When we decongest Metro Manila and other similar cities, we can give them more opportunity for growth in other cities and communities, and also allow their LGUs to plan it out better.

SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. Marami rin basura. Kung saan malalaki ang cities, dyan din maraming basura.

And finally, partnerships (SDG 17), which is Private and Public Partnership.

So on that note, thank you very much and congratulations, your honor.

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