(MANILA STANDARD) Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said indigenous people should not be discriminated against when it comes to employment opportunities. Estrada, the chairperson of the Senate labor committee, also said belonging to an indigenous group should not be used as a basis for hiring a potential employee.
Estrada filed Senate Bill No. 1026 which makes it unlawful for companies to discriminate when hiring and firing of indigenous people.
“To exclude any person from any employment opportunities because of his religion or ethnic origin is unacceptable,” he said.
Aside from ensuring equal employment opportunities to members of indigenous cultural communities, Estrada said his proposed legislation also aims to address poverty and inequalities being experienced by indigenous groups.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) noted in a 2020 report that indigenous people are nearly three times as likely to be living in extreme poverty as their non-indigenous counterparts.
To guarantee equal employment opportunities to members of indigenous cultural communities, Estrada proposes to give preference to them in areas where they are predominant.
As such, it shall be unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or discriminate against them on matters concerning salary, work conditions, and promotion or use it as justification in their firing, he said.
Under SB 1026, it shall also be illegal for a labor union or federation to exclude or expel from its membership any person because of his religion or ethnic origin, unless religion or ethnic origin would affect the operation of the business or enterprise.
Every employer shall also respect the employee’s right to actively participate in religious or ethnic activities, Estrada said.
In areas where indigenous cultural communities predominate, Estrada proposed to have at least 10% of the rank-and-file positions in government service be reserved for their employment provided that their appointment is in accordance with civil service laws.
As much as P500,000 or a jail term of up to six years will be imposed against those who will commit such discriminations.
“The benefits and safeguards embodied in this bill are some of the necessary mechanisms to enforce and guarantee the realization of the
rights of indigenous people, taking into consideration their customs, traditions, and values,” Estrada said