By Hannah Torregoza
Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday pushed for the passage of a measure that seeks to grant a five-day special emergency leave for all workers who are directly affected by natural calamity or disaster.
Cognizant of the myriad dangers faced during natural calamities and disasters, de Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1910, whick seeks to provide workers less than a week to allow workers to protect themselves and their families as well as their properties.
This five-day special emergency leave with pay for all workers will cover all employees in the public and private sector, according to de Lima, chair of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare, and Rural Development.
“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,” de Lima explained in the measure.
The senator pointed out that the Philippines is often visited with an average of 20 typhoons every year, some of which wreak havoc across the country, endanger the lives of many people, and even destroy properties, vital facilities and agriculture.
She also said the country is situated in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” and is thus vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, making its geographical location and physical environment susceptible to tsunami, storm surges, landslides, flood, sea level rise, and even drought.
The lawmaker said it is imperative that the government strikes a balance between the duties of every Filipino as an employee and his primal instinct to survive during emergencies.
“The fight to survive is the daily concern of every Filipino, but it is more important when Mother Nature herself makes her presence known,” de Lima stressed.
She said each worker in the public and private sector should be afforded with protection against the onslaught of calamities and disasters, including taking care of their families and properties against damages and dangers.
“The profound environmental effect of natural disasters and/or calamities to the nation is inevitable, and it is for that reason this proposed measure seeks to at the very least soften the blow of the unforeseen and the inescapable,” the lawmaker stressed.
Under the bill, an employee who has rendered at least six months of service should be entitled to a five-day calamity leave with pay in times of natural calamities or disasters.
Employees qualified to a “calamity leave” include those who are stranded in calamity-stricken areas, those who have incurred disease or illness, or need to take care of family members, or attend to repair and clean up their damaged properties during calamity or disaster.
However, she said, the granting of a calamity leave shall be subjected to careful verification, including the declaration of calamity, medical certificate, announcement of work suspension, road closure, availability of public transportation, among others.