Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a Senate bill which seeks to provide a five-day special emergency leave with pay for all workers in the public and private sectors directly affected by natural calamities or disasters in the country, based on certain grounds and circumstances specified in the measure.
In filing Senate Bill (SB) No. 1123, to be known as the “Calamity Leave Law,” De Lima said it is incumbent upon the State to allow workers to protect not only themselves and their families, but also their properties, in times of natural calamities or disasters.
“Recognizing the environmental consequences of the geographical location of the Philippines as the Pearl of the Orient Seas, the State through this Act seeks to dampen the natural adversities that plague the people,” she said.
“Ours is a tropical country and our industries thrive in water. But the force of the earth that catapults us to our growth as a nation is the same force that endangers our people,” she added.
Located along the Pacific Belt, an average of twenty typhoons – which are capable of wreaking havoc across the country, destroying properties and endangering people’s lives – visit Philippines every year.
Situated in the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, Philippines is also vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, making it even more burdensome for Filipinos to survive in an already poverty-stricken country.
The lady Senator from Bicol said her proposed measure would both aid Filipinos to stand up after the onslaught of calamities and disasters and provide them a few days of respite to facilitate the resumption of their daily activities.
“The profound environmental effect of natural disasters and/or calamities to the nation is inevitable, and it for that reason this proposed measure seeks to at the very least soften the blow of the unforeseen and the inescapable,” she said.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, noted she considered the duties of every Filipino as a member of the work force and his primal instinct for survival in filing SB No. 1123.
“The fight to survive is the daily concern of every Filipino,” she pointed out.
Under SB No. 1123, the five-day special emergency leave with pay shall be available upon the declaration of a state of calamity by the President of the Philippines or by the Local Sanggunian pursuant to Section 16 of R.A. No. 10121.
Individuals eligible for a “Calamity Leave” include those stranded in affected areas, those who incurred diseases brought about by the disaster, those caring for immediate family members affected by natural calamity or disaster, or those needing to urgently repair and clean up their damaged house.
To afford protection to both the employer and the employee, De Lima said the availment of Calamity Leave “shall be limited to the grounds and circumstances, and only upon compliance with the requirements set forth and in conformity with the issued guidelines.” (30)