Senator Sonny Angara has renewed his call for the passage of House Bill 1305 or the Expanded Maternity Leave bill which will extend the number of paid maternity leave days from the current 60 to 120.
“The longer period for maternity leave will free up time for mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies, and in turn, ensure their child’s nutrition. To lengthen maternity benefits is to safeguard our nation’s future,” said Angara, one of the authors of Senate Bill 1305 which was approved on third and final reading in March last year.
However, the counterpart bill at the lower house or House Bill 4113 is still pending approval on second reading since January 2017.
The veteran legislator lamented a 2013 World Health Organization report which showed that the Philippines has a breastfeeding rate of only 34 percent for infants younger than six months.
“The longer period for maternity leave will free up time for mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies, and in turn, ensure their child’s nutrition.”
Based on the 2015 Nutritional Status of Filipinos survey, one in every three Filipino children between the ages of 5 and below are affected by stunted growth.
“Walang katumbas ang gatas ng ina–both in terms of its nutritional and economic value. Doubling the number of paid maternity leave days would incur costs to businesses and to productivity, but its social and familial benefits far outweigh the costs for sure,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
Angara’s father, the late Senate President Edgardo Angara, is the author of Republic Act 7600 or the Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992.
The country is now celebrating National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, while the first week of August is marked as World Breastfeeding Week. This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life.”
“I call on all fathers to give their full support and encouragement to breastfeeding mothers. We can only imagine how emotionally demanding and physically exhausting breastfeeding can be. Mahalaga na tayong mga tatay ay tumutulong din sa pag-alaga ng ating mga anak. Ibigay natin sa mga nanay ang suporta at pagkalinga na kailangan nila,” said the senator, a father of three.
“I call on all fathers to give their full support and encouragement to breastfeeding mothers.
Under SB 1305, 30 days of the proposed 120-day maternity leave are transferrable to alternate caregivers including the child’s father, the mother’s common-law partner, and relatives up to the fourth degree of consanguinity.
Adoptive parents of minor children are also entitled to 30 days of parental leave.
“Every mother–or every parent for that matter–should be afforded ample time and opportunity to care for their children. Hindi dapat natin pinalalagpas ang pagkakataong ito na alagaan sila,” added Angara.