House Panel OKs 'Kasambahay' Bill

MANILA, Philippines - The committee report on the consolidated "kasambahay" bill that seeks to provide a comprehensive package of benefits to household workers has been approved and is set to be transmitted to the plenary for discussions, one of the principal authors said Thursday.

Democratic Independent Workers' Alliance (DIWA) party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay said the still unnumbered bill has gained the nod of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, which is chaired by Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong.

"The committee report was passed," she told the Manila Bulletin. The approval of the committee report which consolidates the five bills was made during the House panel's hearing on Wednesday.

Following the approval, the committee report will be referred to the House Committee on Rules, headed by Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali "Boyet" Gonzales II. Gonzales committee will calendar the pro-household workers' measure for plenary discussions.

Aglipay asked her colleagues to give due attention to the measure, which she hoped, will be passed within the 15th Congress. She cited that there is a "need to establish standards of protection to promote the welfare of domestic workers in our country."

The consolidated kasambahay bill, which seeks to protect the domestic workers from physical, emotional and sexual abuse, is among 24 priority measures which are eyed to be approved on third reading by the House of Representatives.

Among the benefits given to household workers under the measure are allowable days off and holidays, work contract, living quarters, food and medical provisions, Social Security System and PhilHealth coverage, annual salary increases and medical certificates.

The bill intends to benefit domestic workers numbering to about 600,000 to 2.5 million.

Meanwhile, one of the principal authors of the "Filipino-style" divorce bill is appealing to the House leaders not to close the chamber's doors to the measure which seeks to liberate couples who are in "unhappy and irreparable" marriages.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda "Luz" Ilagan said it seems that the earlier announcement made by Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali "Boyet" Gonzales II that House Bill 1799 she co-authored with Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmie de Jesus will not be passed in the 15th Congress is a "directive" that seeks the exclusion of the measure from the legislative priority agenda.

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