Sponsorship Speech: Caregivers’ Welfare Act

Committee Report No. 57 – Senate Bill No. 2019

Mister President, I am honored to sponsor Senate Bill No. 2019 entitled: “An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Caregivers in the Practice of their Profession” under Committee Report No. 57.

This substitute bill is a consolidation of: 

  • Senate Bill 828 by Senator Loren B. Legarda
  • Senate Bill 1396 by Senator Francis “Tol” N. Tolentino
  • Senate Bill 1430 by Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and
  • Senate Bill 1440 by yours truly,

Taking into consideration House Bill No. 227

Your Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development conducted the Committee Hearing on December 12, 2022 and the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting last February 22 and another consultative meeting last March 2.   

We have worked closely with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) and the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), the Technical Education, Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) along with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

We have also coordinated with various organizations of caregivers such as the Caregiver of the Philippines Association Incorporated (CPAI) and the Philippine Caregivers Association-Alliance of Health Workers (PCS-AHW); a private employment agency, the EED-EDC Elderly Care Services; and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) along with other stakeholders, in crafting a finer and better version of this proposed measure.

With the passage of our Caregivers’ Welfare Act, we intend:

  • To cover all duly certified caregivers employed in private homes, nursing or care facilities, other residential settings and those employed by private employment agencies;
  • To provide an inclusive and official definition as to who a caregiver is, as well as their duties and responsibilities;  
  • To formalize the working arrangement between the caregivers and employers by mandating a notarized contract which shall include, among others, duties and responsibilities of the caregiver, period of employment, work arrangement and compensation;
  • To provide that the minimum hours of work of a caregiver is eight (8) hours and any work rendered in excess of this will be paid as overtime. This is in compliance to the basic standards set forth in the labor code of the Philippines.  
  • This is also to address the current and actual practice where caregivers are working for a minimum of twelve (12) hours. At present, a caregiver’s salary is determined by the severity of the client’s case. for ambulatory and ordinary cases – iyon pong nakakalakad naman ang pasyente, ang actual rate po ng ating caregiver ay hindi bababa sa walong daang piso (PhP800.00) para sa labindalawang (12) oras ng trabaho.  
  • To entitle caregivers who have rendered a minimum of one (1) year in service with Service Incentive Leave of at least five (5) days with pay; 
  • To entitle our caregivers to the benefits of SSS, Philhealth and Pag-ibig;
  • To protect our caregivers, hired through private employment agencies by defining the responsibilities of these agencies;
  • To establish an official registry of Filipino caregivers; and finally,
  • To impose penalties for the issuance of fake certificate, clearance or any other document for purposes of fulfilling the requirements under this bill.

Mister President, according to the record of TESDA, from 2017 up to February 28, 2023, there are 145,342 Filipinos certified in Caregiving – ito lang po iyong mga caregivers na may newly-issued National Certificate (NC) II.  Wala pa po sa datos na ito iyong mga licensed health care professionals na nagta-trabaho bilang caregivers. From this we can infer that we have more than a hundred thousand Filipino families dependent on the income derived from the practice and profession of Caregiving.

To emphasize the importance of this measure, it will be noteworthy to look at the realities of a global ageing population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)[1]:

  • All countries face major challenges to ensure that their health and social systems are ready to make the most of this demographic shift;
  • By 2050, eighty percent (80%) of older people will be living in low and middle income countries; at makikinabang po ang Pilipinas dito.
  • The pace of population ageing is much faster than in the past;
  • In 2020, the number of people aged sixty (60) years and older outnumbered children younger than five (5) years;
  • Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over sixty (60) years will nearly double from twelve percent (12%) to twenty-two (22%).

Dito po sa atin, according to the PSA census of population and housing conducted in 2020, senior citizens constitute 8.5% of the household population and that there are 9.22 million Filipinos ages sixty (60) years and above.[2] Kasama na po ako dito.

We are already aware that there has been a constant demand for Filipino caregivers abroad. Dahil mahusay, magalang, mapagmahal at may malasakit ang “alagang pinoy”, maraming bansa ang mas pinapaboran ang mga pinoy caregivers, gaya ng preference nila sa mga pinoy nurses. May mga Filipino nurses na nga rin po tayo na nag-ke-Caregiving.

We must therefore endeavor to institute policies in the practice of caregiving whose standards of professional service is excellent and globally competitive.

As pointed out, the industry of caregiving has already emerged as a viable option for Filipinos, not only for migrant workers, but for local workers as well.  

The Philippines is already positioning itself as a top destination hub for retiring foreigners. Because of lower costs of living in the Philippines and with english as our secondary language, along with other factors, we might be competing against foreign retirees transferring residence here. In the not so distant future, we might find ourselves with a shortage of caregivers to take care of our children, our elders and our loved ones with special needs. 

As we recognize and act on the need to protect the rights of our caregivers towards decent employment and income, we also institutionalize a policy of protecting them against abuse, harassment, violence and economic exploitation.

We need to create a favorable working environment conducive and supportive to the welfare and interests of our caregivers. We are trying to establish an alternative choice for our caregivers where they are not forced to work overseas, endure the pain of being away from their families and loved ones, and take the many risks of working and living abroad. 

With the passage of this Caregivers’ Welfare Act, we give due recognition to the important role of our caregivers in national development.

Panahon na po upang alagaan natin ang ating mga tagapag-alaga at maprotektahan ang sektor ng ating mga Caregivers. Madam President, my dear colleagues, I enjoin all your help and support in passing our Caregivers’ Welfare Act this 19th Congress. Thank you very much, Madam President.

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health

[2] https://psa.gov.ph/population-and-housing/node/167965