By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Joel Villanueva is pushing for the approval of a measure which seeks the protection and job security of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reservists.
Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, on Tuesday urged his colleagues to pass Senate Bill No. 1698 or the “Reservist Employment Rights Act.”
Villanueva is co-author to the proposed law which was initially filed by Senator Bam Aquino. The measure awaits approval in the Senate on second reading.
In a speech at the plenary Tuesday, Villanueva appealed for understanding of AFP reservists “who had to take a leave from their current jobs and be away from their families to perform their call of duty.”
He said it is also “equally important” to ensure his or her job security while being called for public service.
“Hindi po dapat mawalan ng trabaho ang isang Reservist dahil sa pagtugon n’ya sa imbitasyong maglingkod sa bayan, na sa palagay ko’y ang pinakamataas at pinakamarangal na uri ng gawaing maaaring gampanan ng kahit sinong Filipino (A reservist should not lose his or her job because of responding to the call of public service, which, I think is the highest and most honorable job a Filipino can do),” Villanueva said.
He cited that the AFP has recorded a total of 385,116 reservists in 2017, a figure almost three times the number of active military force.
Villanueva, also an AFP reservist, said he believes more individuals would be enticed to join the country’s Reserve Force if the government would ensure their job security.
SB 1698 seeks to address any discrimination in the workplace, whether public or private, based on one’s association with the military. Under the bill, reservists are entitled to their original position without loss of seniority rights or reduction of pay. Their military service should also not be considered a break in the employment for retirement purposes.
“Reservists have the right to return to the same job they were doing before they were mobilized; they have the right to receive the same salary level prior to their call to military service; and they have the right to equal treatment in the workplace,” Villanueva stressed.
Villanueva said he hopes that employers will not take this measure as detrimental to their businesses.
“In fact, I believe the benefits of this measure are definitely tangible to any employer,” he said