Legarda wants longer maternity leave

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

The New Year and – oh yes, everyday – wish of reproductive health advocates is for the Supreme Court to finally lift the Temporary Restraining Order it issued that prohibits the Department of Health from promoting, distributing and dispensing family planning commodities. The TRO denies 18 million women of reproductive age from accessing contraceptives. The implication is that the number of abortions will further rise, and teen-age pregnancy will continue to increase.

Ben de Leon, president of The FORUM (The Forum for Family Planning and Development) says, “I earnestly appeal to the Supreme Court to reverse as soon as possible its decision in favor of the plight of our Filipino women who want to practise family  planning but are denied to do so as a result of the decision.”

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Lifting the TRO is crucial in view of the projected increase in the number of women and teenagers who must have access to family planning methods.

According to Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, Commission on Population (POPCOM) executive director, the Philippine population is projected to reach 105,758,850 by Dec. 31, 2017, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Of the projected number, 27,293,422 are going to be women of reproductive age (aged 15-49). These women, says Dr. Perez, are “usually the beneficiaries of reproductive health services under the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.”

Adolescent girls 10-19 years old will also increase to 10,080,824. Based on the most recent data from the PSA, it is expected that over 200,000 adolescent girls will give birth this year.

It is thus imperative that women and young girls be informed of family planning and given access to family planning methods of their choice.

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On another front, Sen. Loren Legarda is supporting calls to increase the maternity leave of employees in the government and private sector to 100 days.

In the Senate Bill No. 1262 she filed, she said the current maternity leave of 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days in case of caesarian delivery “ does not even comply with the international labor standards on maternal protection that recommends a minimum of 14 weeks or 98 days of maternity leave.”

“The proposed measure is imperative to ensuring the health and overall well-being of women and their children by providing them ample time to recuperate after delivery, to increase the duration of breastfeeding and to allow women to spend adequate time to assume their roles as mothers and equal partners of men in nation-building,” the senator stressed.

She cited Article XIII Social Justice and Human Rights, Section 14 of the Constitution, which states that: “The State shall protect working women by providing safe and healthful working conditions, taking into account their maternal functions, and such facilities and opportunities that will enhance their welfare and enable them to realize their full potential in the service of the nation.”

SBN 1262 seeks to amend existing laws to increase the maternity leave period to 100 days with pay for female employees both in government and in the private sector.

In addition, Legarda said, the employee can, at her option, avail of the additional 30 days maternity leave without pay, subject to the condition that she notifies her employer in writing of her intention to go on further leave at least 45 days before the end of her regular maternity leave.

“It is important to ensure a smooth transition for a mother who is an employee in the workplace to adopt a maternal role. Thus, working mothers shall be entitled to 100 days paid leave regardless if the delivery was normal or caesarian to give them more time to nurse and care for their newborn babies,” Legarda concluded.

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It was a time of happy mourning. That sounds like a contradiction of terms. But that was what took place inside the Church of the Risen Lord where a memorial service was heard, and the following reception at the church’s rock garden. The object of prayers and joyful remembrances in the evening of Jan. 5 was the late Monica Feria, who passed away Dec. 30 at the age of 61.

Monica was first, a political activist who like her mother, Dolores Feria, was a fiery anti-dictator voice, an outstanding journalist, a serious magazine writer and editor, and the last position she held, editor at a broadsheet. Her classmates recalled her beauty, sense of humor, insistent demand for perfection, her jolly personality, her being a good cook, her fearless political activism that was ahead of her classmates like former Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez and  musical artist John Lesaca, her good friends (everybody she treated as a good friend, as each one treated her a good friend), Fe Mangahas, Jenny Santillan, Jun Engracia, Wilhelmina Orosco. The event served as a reunion of media colleagues, academicians and admirers. So many wanted to speak about her, but time was running out, the evening was inching towards dawn, but I think, Monica, smiling unseen, may have wanted to kiss everyone and say, “Stay, stay.”

Mon Jimenez summed up his good friend’s persona. “We, the UP High Class of ’71 will summarize all she was with a much more symbolic picture: her poise, her courage, her confidence on the balance beam in the UP gym . . . as she executes a perfect backward cartwheel. That was Monica in a single idea.”

John Lesaca said, “ Monica firmly believed that she was an agent for change and she spent all her life making a difference in everyone’s lives without really trying. But we could see what she was doing and she gained our respect.”

Monica is survived by her husband David and their daughter Jasmin. I was an admirer of Monica. Goodbye, but your memory, as Chelo Banal Formoso wrote in a piece, your memory will remain “forevermore.”

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Email: [email protected]


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