Press Release
September 26, 2016

Hontiveros hears bills increasing maternity leave, nutrition support for infants

Asserting that there is an inextricable link between the well-being of mothers and the health of their children, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros today chaired two consecutive committee hearings that deliberated two of her health legislation; the bills seek to expand the paid maternity leave of working women and scale up nutrition support for infants.

Healthy Bulilit Act

Senate Bill No. 1145 or the Healthy Bulilit Law was deliberated in the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

Hontiveros explained that her bill mandates the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) to increase nutrition support to all children in the first 1,000 days. She characterized this period as crucial and intervention at this time is key to combatting nutritional stunting. The senator said undernutrition remains the underlying killer of children as it makes them vulnerable to bout of infections, low birth weights and wasting.

Philippines lost P328 B to undernutrition

Hontiveros, citing a report by the Save the Children International, also said that the Philippine economy lost at least P328 billion or the equal of 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 due to the impact of childhood stunting on workforce productivity and education.

"We need to strengthen the government's commitment to provide children all the necessary nutrients to ensure their healthy growth. We must ensure that we have healthy bulilits who will grow up to become healthy Pinoys and Pinays," Hontiveros said.

150 days of maternity leave for working women

Hontiveros' Senate Bill No. 215 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Law Act of 2016 was heard by the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, which the senator also chairs.

The senator said her bill seeks to provide women workers in the public and private sectors, married or not, 120 days of maternity leave, and an additional 30 days for solo mothers. The additional 30 days can be allocated to alternate caregivers such as their common law partners, or relatives up to the 4th degree of consaguinity. It can also be extended to adopters or any person who has adopted a minor.

"It's time to introduce radical reforms to our maternity law to bring it at par with international standards. In Asia, we are lagging behind Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. The government must respond to our women workers' pre and post-natal health needs. The government must also recognize and provide full support for women's reproductive work," Hontiveros said.

"Centennial gifts"

Hontiveros said that as the Senate celebrates its 100 years, she hoped that the passage of her bills will be some of the institution's "centennial gifts" to the Filipino families. "There is no better gift than the gift of a secure and healthy future. Let us bring forward real changes in the lives of our women and children," she concluded.

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