Press Release
January 29, 2019


Senator Sonny Angara's bill providing social protection to workers in the informal sector has been introduced to the Senate plenary for approval, making it possible for fishermen, fisherfolk, garbage collectors and small retailers, among others, to access the services of the Social Security System and PhilHealth.

Senate Bill 309 or the Magna Carta of Workers in Informal Economy (MACWIE) seeks to include workers in the informal economy, who are mostly not covered by the Labor Code and other legislation protecting their rights.

"Sila talaga yung mga dapat nating tulungan. Sila 'yung mga walang proteksyon, walang tiyak na kinabukasan sapagkat wala po silang bank account, wala po silang Pag-IBIG, wala po silang PhilHealth, wala po silang SSS o GSIS," Angara said, following the sponsorship speech of Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor.

Other workers in the informal economy include micro-entrepreneurs, home-based workers, vendors, small transport operators, barkers, non-corporate construction workers, recyclers, barter traders, small-scale miners and quarry workers, entertainers, beauticians and hairdressers, barangay health workers and other volunteer workers, among others.

The lack of social protection makes them vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers who make them work long hours and at very low wages, without benefits and under very poor working conditions.

Angara has been pushing for the passage of the bill since his first term as congressman representing the lone district of Aurora during the 13th Congress.

"It's now the 17th Congress and Senator Joel has gone from congressman to secretary of TESDA to Senate topnotcher, but finally, thanks to him," Angara said.

The MACWIE bill provides that informal workers must enjoy just and favorable conditions of work; a living wage and equal remuneration for work; safe and healthy working conditions; rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours, among others.

It also ensures access to labor market programs and social protection, particularly SSS and PhilHealth coverage, subsidized by the government.

"Most of our informal workers are described as the 'working poor'--or those who are working but cannot work their way out of poverty because of very low earnings and very high risk. Tulungan po natin silang makaahon," Angara said.

The Department of Labor and Employment estimates that 16.7 million workers in the informal economy stand to benefit once the bill is enacted.

The bill further provides for special allocations for programs and services for workers in informal economy amounting to at least 10 percent of the annual national budget and at least three percent of the development fund of each local government unit's internal revenue allotment.

To avail of such development programs and services, informal workers must register in the local government to be listed in a centralized database system, and issued an identity card and a record book with a list of all services and benefits they can avail of. A one-time registration fee of not more than P50 per worker shall be paid to the municipality or city where they reside.

Workers in Informal Employment Local Development Office (WIELDO) will also be established in every city and municipality in the country.

"Passing the Magna Carta would lead to a win-win situation for the country. While we provide basic rights and social protection to our informal workers, we also grow our economy by harnessing their full potential to become effective and productive economic actors of the country," Angara said.

"This Magna Carta is the culmination of persistent advocacy efforts involving informal workers' associations, women's groups, human rights and other civil society organizations stretching for more than a decade. It is high time for this bill to move forward," he added.

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