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Hontiveros to push for health and gender bills this year

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - January 14, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Senator Risa Hontiveros has reiterated her vow to prioritize the passage of several health and gender equality bills in 2017, saying in a press conference yesterday in Cebu that she and her fellow senators will build on the gains they made last year in the promotion of progressive laws.

Hontiveros said that these priority bills are the Senate Bill No. 215 or the Extended Maternity Leave Act, Senate Bill No. 935 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill and the Senate Bill No. 216 or the Amendments to the Anti-Hospital Deposit Act.

Hontiveros, who serves as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, sees longer maternity leave for women this year as her proposed bill extends maternity leave from 60 days to 120 days and an additional 30 days for solo mothers.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently expressed his support for a longer maternity leave. Duterte said that mothers should have a longer rest period to give them more time to breastfeed their babies.

"Kailangan talaga ng medyong mahaba-habang leave yung nanay na bagong panganak para mahaba din yung bonding nila ng baby and for her to be healthier the moment she returns for work, and more inspired," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros also said that her committee is already in the process of preparing its report on the different versions of the bill.

Hontiveros said that the proposed Anti-Discrimination Bill has already made its way to the plenary and is ready for second reading.

Hontiveros' proposed measure is the first anti-discrimination bill to reach the Senate plenary.

"Totoo yan. The first bill on this was filed 17 years ago pa at walang nangyari. Sana this time maipasa na ang bill," said Hontiveros.

The said bill penalizes discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in schools and workplaces, and offers equal protection to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

As part of her campaign promise, Hontiveros is also seeking to stop the practice of hospitals asking for advance payment before admitting patients in emergency situations. (FREEMAN)

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