Apr 302013

MANILA, Philippines -Lawmakers vowed to reintroduce in the 16th Congress a measure expanding the prohibited acts of discrimination against women on account of sex.

Rep. Emil Ong (2nd District, Northern Samar), chairperson of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, said amending Articles 135 and 137 of Presidential Decree 442, as amended, also known as the Labor Code of the Philippines, will level the playing fields of women in all areas of employment and job opportunities.

“House Bill 4643 will secure equal opportunities and fair treatment for female employees vis-a-vis their male counterparts in the workplace,” Ong said.

“The measure was extensively discussed then approved by the House during the 14th and 15th Congress; and transmitted to the Senate,” he added.

Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo I (2nd District, Valenzuela City), author of the bill, said there has been a marked increase in the number of women now working in a variety of jobs in which, at times, their entry and subsequent opportunities are dampened, if not altogether stopped, by discrimination.

“This situation makes it imperative to institute mechanisms that will provide equal employment opportunities for all, regardless of sex, which is one step towards departing from the prevailing social and economic inequity in the country,” Gunigundo said.

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“Gender bias, both in the recruitment and in the conditions of the workplace, bolsters the traditional perception of society that a woman’s proper place is at home, a view that has become an obstacle to the employability of women,” Gunigundo added.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro), another author of the bill, said “as enshrined in the Constitution, the State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.”

“The State shall promote equality of employment opportunities for all and are elaborated in laws which give women equal legal status with men. But much has to be done to promote women’s welfare and status,” Rodriguez said.

Rep. Maximo Rodriguez (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), who also authored the bill, cited a report by the Bureau of Women and Young Workers and the National Statistics Office stating that women employees generally earn less than their male counterparts because they are predominantly in low-skilled jobs, and only a few of them advance to the top of the organizational hierarchy.

“Thus, one can see the disparities engendered by sexual discrimination, a reality that calls for a positive and concerted action,” Rodriguez said.

“In keeping with the belief that sex-based discrimination in employment should be eliminated, it shall be unlawful for any employer to deny any woman the benefits of employment or other statutory benefits under the law by reason of her sex, age, ethnic origin or beliefs or relations by affinity or consanguinity,” Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora), also an author of the measure, said.

“House Bill 4643 seeks to encourage employers to recruit and hire more women in the workplace, eliminating the big stumbling block to women’s employability,” Angara said.

Under the measure, any employer found guilty of favoring a male employee over a female employee with respect to dismissal of personnel or the application of any retrenchment policy of the employer solely on account of their sexes shall be fined or suffer imprisonment or both.

“It is also a violation to deny any woman the benefits of employment or other statutory benefits under our laws by reason of her gender,” Rep. Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac) said.

“Companies are prohibited from specifying gender preference either through job notices or during hiring,” Yap said.

In addition to other penalties provided by law, violators and their accomplices, shall be fined of Fifty Thousand Pesos to Two Hundred Thousand Pesos and imprisonment of two to four years.

A non-Filipino offender after serving the imposed penalties shall then be deported.

The measure also mandates the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) upon consultation of the Secretary of Labor and Employment with the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council.

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