Coalition fears Duterte veto on Expanded Maternity Leave bill
A coalition of women and labor groups on Thursday sounded the alarm over what they said was the possibility that President Duterte might veto the Expanded Maternity Leave measure, which has been awaiting his signature since Jan. 21.
Women Workers for the Expanded Maternity Leave Law (Workers4EML) said it had come to their attention that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) sent a position paper to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office opposing the bill due to cost considerations.
P6.4 billion needed
Nice Coronacion, a Workers4EML member and deputy secretary of workers’ alliance Sentro, said the DBM, citing Social Security System computations, expressed doubts that it could fund the P6.4 billion needed to implement the law.
“For us, that brings the real threat of a veto,” said Coronacion, who noted that the measure would lapse into law by Feb. 21 if Duterte did not sign or veto it before then.
Under the current law, women are allowed 60 days of paid maternity leave, the shortest in Southeast Asia and which falls well below the 98 days stipulated in Convention No. 183 of the International Labor Organization.
The period would be increased to 105 days under the bill.
A will, a way
Coronacion disputed the assumption that the measure was too costly, saying that P6 billion was a meager amount compared to the P75 billion worth of alleged “pork” insertions into the 2019 national budget.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” she said. “They are only choosing to be thrifty when it comes to the health of mothers.”
The measure, championed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, was passed in the Senate on a 22-0 vote in 2017, with the House of Representatives approving its version of the bill last year.
Should the President veto the bill, Congress could override it, but only through a two-thirds majority.
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