Press Release
November 10, 2017


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday called on President Rodrigo Duterte to draw inspiration from the Philippines' neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and improve the country's existing maternity leave law.

"Even as the Philippines serves as this year's Chair and host of the ASEAN, the stark reality remains that the Philippines falls woefully below international & regional standards for the number of paid maternity leave days. We are host to this year's ASEAN but our country is inhospitable to women suffering from an archaic and inadequate maternity leave law," Hontiveros said.

"President Duterte must draw inspiration from our ASEAN neighbors to improve our country's maternity leave policy. The President must see our hosting of this year's summit as an opportunity to follow the example of our ASEAN neighbors regarding progressive maternity care," Hontiveros added.

In a press conference on Thursday, November 9, different women's organizations and labor groups said that the Philippines currently has one of the shortest number of paid maternity leave days among ASEAN member states. At the moment, the current law grants only 60 days' leave to expectant mothers. This is a far cry from the 180 days given by Vietnam. Singapore grants 112 days' leave, while Brunei and Laos each give 105 days. Myanmar grants 98, which is also the recommended number of paid maternity leave days under Convention 183 of the International Labor Organization.

Last March, the Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1305, or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act authored by Hontiveros. It provides 120 days of maternity leave for expectant mothers, with an additional 30 days for solo parents. However, the measure's version in the House of Representatives is still waiting approval from its members.

Hontiveros, who serves as the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, and the Vice Chairperson for the Committee on Health, urged President Duterte to muster the political will to convince his allies in the House of Representatives to pass the said bill.

"Our maternity leave law has not been improved in 25 years. It is time for the Philippines to follow the best practices of its ASEAN neighbors even as it exercises leadership as this year's ASEAN chair," Hontiveros said.

The Senator's call comes as Philippines plays host to the upcoming ASEAN summit from November 13-15.

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