Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada hailed the passage on second reading of Senate Bill number 429 entitled, “An Act Expanding the Prohibited Acts of Discrimination Against Women on Account of Sex, Gender, Age, Race, Ethnic Origin, Religion or Beliefs, Disability or other status,” as he expressed appreciation to his colleagues for supporting the measure.
The bill is principally authored by Sen. Estrada, concurrent chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment (COCLE).
Sen. Estrada says this development is of perfect timing as the nation celebrates Women’s Week. Presidential Proclamation 224 of 1988 declares the first week of March as Women’s Week and March 8 as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day.
The proposal expands the discriminatory acts lined out in the current provisions of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines.
The measure seeks to declare the following discriminatory acts as unlawful under Article 135:
The proposed measure likewise amends Article 137 of the Labor Code to expand prohibited acts of discrimination against women. It shall also be unlawful for any employer to dismiss, discharge or otherwise prejudice a woman employee merely by reason of her marriage and her childcare responsibilities.
Violations of Articles 135 and 137 shall be meted with a penalty of imprisonment of at least two years and a fine of not less than P50,000 under the proposed measure.
Notedly, Senate Bill 429 also subjects job contractor and labor organization to similar prohibitions, aside from the employers.
“The Philippine Constitution, specifically in Section 14, Article II explicitly stipulates the fundamental equality between women and men, recognizing the women’s role in nation building,” the senator stressed, adding: “This appreciation of the role and rights of women is further reinforced in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which our government ratified.”
He further said, “As our country strives for full realization of gender-responsive development, we need to ensure that enabling mechanisms are created to fulfill the equality stipulated by the Constitution, as well as the UN Convention. As such, we must eliminate discrimination in the workplace and in all aspects of employment practices to allow women equal access to job opportunities.”
Sen. Estrada is also the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act 10151 which lifted the night work prohibition for women workers.