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Monday, January 2, 2017

Hontiveros Sees Health and Gender Equality Bills at the Forefront of 2017 Legislative Agenda


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Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday vowed to prioritize the passage of several health and gender equality bills in 2017, saying that she and her fellow senators will build on the gains they made last year in the promotion of progressive laws.

Hontiveros, who serves as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, sees longer maternity leave for women this year. She filed Senate Bill No. 215 or the Extended Maternity Leave Act which seeks to extend the maternity leaves of working women from the current 60 days to 120 days and150 days for solo mothers.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently threw 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."I agree that you need a longer period of rest for maternity leave. Gusto ko nga isang taon eh (I even want it to last for a year)," he said.

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

Hontiveros also vowed to push Senate Bill No. 935 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill which she filed to penalize discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in schools and workplaces, and offer equal protection to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The said bill already made its way to the plenary and is ready for second reading. LGBT advocates said that Hontiveros' proposed measure is the first anti-discrimination bill to reach the Senate plenary.

As part of her campaign promise, Hontiveros seeks to stop the practice of hospitals asking for advance payment before admitting patients in emergency situation. Hontiveros, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Health, filed Senate Bill No. 216 or the Amendments to the Anti-Hospital Deposit Act that seek heavier penalties on hospitals that continue to violate the law while providing tax incentives to those that will admit indigent or poor patients in cases of emergency.

"We will conduct another hearing on this issue, submit the bill to the technical working group and release a committee report as soon as possible," Hontiveros said.

"The Anti-hospital deposit bill is part of my priority legislative bills this new year. We cannot allow the lives and health well-being of our people to be sacrificed any longer in the name of profit," Hontiveros added.

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