Koko: ensure laws that uphold women’s rights are properly enforced

As the country marks Women's Month, Senate Trade and Commerce Committee Chair Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III today stressed the need to ensure the proper enforcement of laws meant to uphold women's welfare, as "well-intentioned legislation becomes toothless without proper implementation."

According to Pimentel, "it is incumbent upon us in the Legislature to follow through and ensure that the laws we passed are benefiting the intended sector."

"Laws are nothing but words on pieces of paper if there is no wherewithal on the part of government to ensure compliance with the law," added the legislator.

The reelectionist senator cited the Magna Carta of Women (MCW), a comprehensive women's human rights law enacted in 2009 that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting their rights, especially those in marginalized sector.

For example, said Pimentel, the MCW "emphasizes the right of women to protection and security in times of disaster, calamities and other crisis situations, especially in all phases of relief, recovery, rehabilitation and construction efforts, including protection from sexual exploitation and other sexual and gender-based violence."

"However, experience has shown that more needs to be done to protect women when natural calamities strike. In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, Tacloban City's Social Welfare and Development Office revealed that there were more than 100 incidents of violence against women and children reported to their office from January to September 2014. And these are only the reported cases; there could have been more," lamented the lawmaker from Mindanao.

"These are the things that need to be addressed, because we need to prevent the passage of women's laws to become hollow victories by not being vigilant."

Pimentel said that two new laws recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte - the First 1,000 Days Law and the 105-day Expanded Maternity Leave Law - can "significantly contribute to the welfare of women, especially mothers."

"But we have to monitor their implementation so that their goals are met. In the case of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law, our Labor Department must ensure that employers do not circumvent the law," stressed Pimentel.

As for the First 1,000 Days Law, said Pimentel, "the National Nutrition Council has to work hand in hand with the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture to make sure the program reaches out to women and children from poor families so they will have access to quality health and nutrition services that will prevent health issues like stunting and undernourishment."

Under the First 1,000 Days Law, the government is mandated to prioritize the nutrition of pre-pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, infants and young children.

The 105-day Expanded Maternity Leave Law, on the other hand, gives female workers a total of 105 days of paid maternity leave. Solo mothers can also be given an additional of 15 days of paid leave, granted that they qualify as a solo parent under the Solo Parents Welfare Act.

Source: Senate of the Philippines