Bill mandating employers to offer work from home set up filed in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   June 29, 2020   •   695

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to make work from home arrangement a mandatory option offered to employees has been filed in the Senate.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1448, Senator Imee Marcos noted that alternative working arrangements are becoming a new normal in offices due to the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Marcos said her bill proposes to introduce amendments to the Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act to make working from home a mandatory option for employees whose physical presence in the workplace is not necessary for the completion of his or her job, and who have been in the company for at least a year.

“Should the physical presence of the employee be necessary for a particular task, the employer may require his/her attendance in the workplace, within office hours and during weekdays, but not more than twice a week,” Marcos said in her proposal.

Telecommuting is defined in the present law as a work arrangement that allows a worker to perform his or her tasks from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.

“Various sectors, including the labor sector, have to make major modifications in their policy to ensure compliance with social distancing measures,” Marcos said in the explanatory note of the bill.

“This bill, this seeks to strengthen the Telecommuting Law by making it mandatory, and not merely optional, for employers to offer telecommuting as an alternative to employees whose physical presence in the workplace is not absolutely essential to the performance of their functions,” she added.

The measure also states that a contract of employment should clearly indicate the eligibility of a given position for telecommuting.

“Clearly, a ‘new normal’ of social distancing, new hygiene standards and limited physical contact shall prevail into the future,” Marcos said.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Telecommuting Act on December 20, 2018, after Senator Joel Villanueva pushed for its passage in the previous Congress.

Senator calls for reopening of schools

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Imee Marcos is calling for the reopening of schools.

The senator expressed her dismay that cockfighting activities have already been allowed to resume but students are still prohibited from returning to school.

She also said it is better for local offices of the Department of Education (DepEd) and school boards to have the authority to decide on the reopening of schools.

“Talagang nadismaya ako na mas mahalaga pa pala ang sabong sa Pilipino kaysa sa edukasyon. Linggong nakalipas, binuksan na ang sabungan, pero ang eskwela, sarado pa rin, (I was really dismayed that cockfighting is more important to Filipinos than education. Weeks have passed and cockfighting arenas were reopened but schools remain closed),” she said.

“Hindi naman yata tama. Bigyan naman natin ng kahalagahan ang ating edukasyon. Alam naman natin na hindi super spreader ang mga eskwelahan (That is not right. We should give importance to our education, we know schools are not super spreaders),” she added.

For Senate Committee on Basic Education chairperson Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the COVID-19 situation in the country is gradually improving and it is high time to review having localized, limited face-to-face classes, especially in areas with zero COVID-19 cases.

Gatchalian reported, there are around 500 municipalities in the country with no COVID-19 cases.

“I have consulted with our mayors in the BARMM area. They are quite worried because the feedback they are getting is a lot of their parents didn’t
even finish elementary or high school. So, they don’t have that confidence of teaching their children at home,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DepEd said they are still finalizing their recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the reopening of schools. The department also reiterated that the decision on whether schools will be reopened is up to the President.

DepEd Usec. Nepomuceno Malaluan said reopening schools would still pose challenges. There is a need for coordination between schools, the local government, and parents in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s very important that there is an understanding of a shared responsibility when we get to reintroduce the face-to-face that there is a strong agreement and unity with the local government that this is something that we need to do. The parents should also be aware of the risks involved,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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Some senators opt out of COVID-19 testing

UNTV News   •   March 20, 2020

Senate of the Philippines facade

Although Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri has announced he tested positive for COVID-19 despite being asymptomatic, some senators have opted not to undergo a COVID-19 test.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan have decided not to go through COVID-19 testing, saying they are not manifesting any symptoms and are strictly following protocols given by the DOH.

Some of their co-lawmakers have already taken the test including Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Pia Cayetano, Ramon Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino and the first two senators who initiated to undergo self-quarantine, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay.

Senator Christoper Bong Go has also undergone COVID-19 testing with President Rodrigo Duterte who came out negative. — by Harlene Delgado

Imee Marcos wants Manila Water, Maynilad held liable to service disruption

Robie de Guzman   •   October 24, 2019

Senator Imee Marcos (C)

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Imee Marcos on Thursday said that concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad should be held accountable for implementing rotational water service interruptions which are seen to inconvenience millions of its customers.

In a statement, Marcos said water concessionaires in Metro Manila should have implemented countermeasures to prevent water shortage amid declining water level at Angat and Ipo dams.

Marcos said this is not the first time that Metro Manila and nearby provinces have experienced water shortage this year, recalling the time when water concessionaires also implemented operational adjustments due to low water supply in March.

“Di ba nasabon at binalaan na sila ni Pangulong Duterte na ite-terminate ang concession agreements noong Marso dahil sa kapalpakan nila, pero ngayon wala pa rin silang solusyon sa problema sa tubig,” Marcos said in a statement.

Alam naman nila na may kakulangan sa suplay nito. Bakit ang mga tao ang babalikat ng sakripisyo,” she added.

She said the Senate could review the existing agreements between the concessionaires and the government.

Manila Water and Maynilad both announced earlier that they will implement daily rotational water service interruptions in several areas starting Oct. 24.

The water companies cited the declining water level in Angat dam and Ipo dams as the reason for the supply adjustment.

As of 6 a.m. Thursday, the water level in Angat Dam is at 185.87 meters while the Ipo dam is at 100.37 meters.

The dams’ water elevation has consistently declined in the past few weeks due to a lack of heavy rainfall that could raise its reserves.

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