Pia calls for stricter compliance with breastfeeding laws

In keeping up with this year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month celebration, Senator Pia S. Cayetano called on concerned government agencies to ensure the proper implementation of laws that promote breastfeeding practices among Filipino mothers.

“I am duty-bound to do my part in promoting breastfeeding, being the author of the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Law, together with the late Senator Ed Angara,” Cayetano said in her privilege speech on Tuesday (August 6).

The senator was referring to Republic Act No. 10028 or the “Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009,” which she championed during her first term as senator. The law requires the establishment of Lactation Stations in public places, government facilities, and private offices. 

Ten years into the passage of the measure, Cayetano stressed that more needs to be done to fully promote the practice of breastfeeding, especially among working mothers. She said agencies tasked to implement the law should step up to properly enforce it.

“My call to action is for the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that all sectors are compliant with RA 10028. We should direct all hospitals, health institutions, and even industries manufacturing and distributing formula milk, to follow regulations set by the law,” she said.

The senator also urged the labor department and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to strictly monitor if private companies and government offices are following requirements in setting up Lactation Stations and providing Lactation Breaks for nursing employees. 

“I have women who message me on social media [complaining] that their bosses are not giving them time off to breastfeed. But that is required by the law. We need the [concerned government agencies] to step up on this,” Cayetano said. 

“We also need all employers to be mindful of [our breastfeeding law] because otherwise, we would not set up the environment for successful breastfeeding,” she added. 

Furthermore, Cayetano called on local government units (LGUs) in the country to abide by the provisions of another law, which requires that breastfeeding areas be set up in evacuation centers in times of calamities.

“Breastfeeding stations must be present during disaster risk situations. It is required that every LGU provides the support that a breastfeeding mother and family needs,” she said. 

Republic Act 10821 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, which Cayetano sponsored, requires that transitional shelters provide mother- and child-friendly spaces, including maternal, newborn, and infant care rooms where moms can feed their babies in private.

Lastly, the senator reminded employers of provisions of Republic Act 11210 or the “Expanded Maternity Leave Law” on granting working mothers 105 days of paid maternity leave.  

“This law complements our breastfeeding measures, because one of the biggest deterrents to women continuing to breastfeed is when they go to work and get separated from their children,” said Cayetano, one of the bill’s principal authors in the 17th Congress. #

Senator Pia Cayetano delivers a privilege speech on breastfeeding month. Behind her in the VIP gallery is the senator’s mother, Sandra Schramm Cayetano, who supported the Taguig lawmaker in her struggles as a young breastfeeding mom. (Senate PRIB)

Privilege speech on Breastfeeding Month*

Mr. President, I believe in the 12 years I was in the Senate, I think without miss, I delivered a speech on breastfeeding every August. And the reason for that is because August is Breastfeeding Month.

Thus, I am duty-bound to do my part in promoting breastfeeding, being the author of the Expanded Breastfeeding Law, together with the late Senator Ed Angara. 

But the question that I’d like my colleagues to ponder is this. Why do we need to promote something that is so natural that is a biological function of every mother? 

The reason for that is because over the decades, we have lost the breastfeeding culture, especially among mothers who work outside of the home, and there has also been a lot of misinformation on breast milk alternatives, which has resulted in sickness and death among our infants. 

A little bit of history, Mr. President. Obviously, women breastfed from the time of Adam and Eve. However, around the time of the Industrial Revolution, there was a major shift in the traditional woman’s life. They left their homes to join the workforce. Working hours and hours, half a day, and many of them living away from home. 

This caused the separation of the mother from her child, interfering with breastfeeding. The result was many babies fell sick and actually died. There were no studies to determine, to tell what were the acceptable alternatives to breast milk. Thus led to the invention of formula milk. 

And for a while, this was seen as a suitable alternative to breast milk for mothers. In fact, it became very lucrative because the demand of working mothers grew and for long, formula milk was even touted as the best food for babies. They would say that it makes babies grow stronger, grow taller, become smarter, etc. etc. 

Well over the decades, this was proven to be false. There is no formula or milk substitute that can provide the nutrients or immunological benefits that breast milk can provide. I repeat, there is no other product than the mother’s milk. Anyone else who says so is lying. 

I am now going to take the opportunity to greet a soon-to-be father, Former Congressman Samsam Gullas, who’s behind me, to remember that. Because the next part of my speech is about being a very supportive breastfeeding husband or father.

Anyway, the advertisements and commercials supporting formula milk led many mothers to believe that in fact they could give their [babies] this formula milk, and their babies would be healthier. The most affected always are the poorest of the poor, because they had very little money to spend, they would buy formula, and then they would even use it not within the prescribed manner of using it. They would dilute it with more water because they didn’t have the money to pay for all that formula milk. And thus, their baby would even get more malnourished. 

And during times of disaster, Mr. President, I’ll talk about this a little bit more. When formula milk was made available, without access to clean water, babies even got diarrhea and some would even die. So, this led to the passage of EO 51, which regulated the promotion and advertising of breast milk substitutes. That was before I became a senator, Mr. President. 

Meanwhile, I became a working mother myself, and from my own research, wala pa hong internet noon, so I bought books and I read on these books. I realized, I learned that breast milk was best for babies. I breastfed my three children, and indulge me, Mr. President, as I share this story. My mom, who happens to be in the audience today, she actually surprised me, I did not know that she would be here. So that’s my mom, over there. Mom, can you stand up? 

For those of you who were colleagues of my father, now you know where my brothers and I get most of our wisdom from. Our mother. Anyway, my breastfeeding story. My mom was my invaluable partner in my breastfeeding journey.  I lived in a two-bedroom house in Taguig with my brother, Alan, now the Speaker of the House. I lived in one room with my husband, and he lived in his other room by himself, as far as I know. 

Meanwhile, because I was breastfeeding night and day, my mom would come over and sleep in our house, and she would sleep in Alan’s room and get my baby at any hour of the night so that I could have a little but of sleep. And thus, Alan technically also witnessed and was a partner in my breastfeeding journey.

I had a very similar experience with my second child. It was not an easy experience in both cases, because I was a working mom, I had to stay up all night. I am not one of those mothers who had an oversupply of milk. I cried in the first two months of breastfeeding my baby. It was painful, I had no sleep, I went to work and had to budget my time, carrying what looked like a briefcase, but was actually a breast pump. 

Come my third child who is actually in the picture on the wall, my third child was Gabriel. He was born with a cleft lip and palate and he also had many other conditions brought about by his condition, which is called Trisomy 13. Thus, he could not really suck well and so I breastfed him through a tube that went all the way down to his stomach.

So that was my breastfeeding experience. Every mother has her own story to tell. 

Fast forward, I became a senator, and I was approached by many advocacy groups asking for help in promoting breastfeeding. And this gave me the opportunity to work with the late Senator Ed Angara, wherein we passed the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Law in 2009. 

This law required that we set up Lactation Stations in the workplaces, and in places frequented by women. So gentlemen, if you go with your wives to SM or other malls, please do me a favor and ensure that you see a breastfeeding center.  I mentioned SM because to be fair to SM, they even put up the lactation stations before it became a law. So… Yes, that is part of it. Senator Gordon pointed it out something that I will actually talk about. 

The law also required that we require doctors and health workers to talk about it, because surprisingly, we met a lot of mothers who said their doctors never talked about breastfeeding with them. Whether it was the OB-Gyne or the Pediatrician. I’d like to believe that since we passed this law, which has been 10 years, this has been improved.

It has also required that this be part of the Curriculum. What we want to see is that, when children read books, they see pictures of a breastfeeding family, and not a family that has a baby being fed through a bottle. Because we want to promote a breastfeeding culture.

Now to complement this law, and to also help in ensuring its implementation, I did my little share of talking to health workers, talking to mothers, visiting hospitals, encouraging LGUs to put up milk banks. And this is where the birthday celebrant, Senator Dick Gordon, comes in. Senator Dick Gordon is a proponent of blood-letting. I am a proponent of milk-letting. It is very similar… and let me get there. He is also a proponent of milk… breast milk promotion, because as the Red Cross chair, they require that our disaster centers are breastfeeding-friendly. 

So for those who don’t know what a breast milk… a milk bank is, what a milk-letting activity is, it’s similar to blood-letting where you ask people to volunteer. In this case, these are mothers who are actually breastfeeding and have milk to share. And they pump their milk and they donate it. And it will be put in a storage for mothers who would be needing it for their babies in the future. 

Fast forward, was the Maternity Leave Law, which we all passed just recently. And this law complements the breastfeeding laws that I mentioned because one of the biggest deterrents to women continuing to breastfeed is the fact that they go to work and they’re separated from their children. 

So, for those gentlemen here who will have women in your workforce who will be breastfeeding, please, not I encourage you, but I remind you that it is the law to allow them to have time to breastfeed. Sadly, our law only provides for 40 minutes, which is actually not enough, for those gentlemen. I know Joel was a supportive breastfeeding husband, so was Sonny. I don’t know the rest, but whoever else was, thank you for that. 

You know that 40 minutes in a workday is not enough to breastfeed. So I encourage you to be even more supportive than that. My staff who do not know that I am about to call their attention. My Chief of Staff, DG, who disappeared. My Personal Assistant, Claire. They both breastfed their babies while working for me.

On the Senate Lactation Room
When we first launched it, we had a tarpaulin, because when hearings start, we were very pleasantly surprised that visitors, our resource persons who would come, were very happy that we have a Lactation Room that they can visit. So let’s make them know that by putting up the proper signage so that they know that the Senate is breastfeeding-friendly. 

And I also had the privilege, Mr. President, of setting up the same in the House of Representatives when I was there over the last three years. 

So my call to action,  Mr. President is simply that DOH ensures that all the sectors are compliant, hospitals, health institutions, and even the industries that manufacture and distribute milk formula, that they follow our rules and regulations; the Department of Labor, that they ensure that the private companies are following the requirement that Lactation Stations are set up within their offices…

I have women who message me on Twitter and Instagram that their boss is not giving them time off to breastfeed, so that is required by the law. So we need DOLE to step up on this. The Civil Service, to ensure also that our government agencies are also compliant. We should take the lead. 

I’d like to point out that the Senate is very small compared to the House of Representatives. When I went there, that was one of the first things that I did, to check where the Lactation Station is. And in a setup like that, although the law does not dictate how many meters away that Lactation Station should be from a woman’s office, the fact that the House of Representatives is an entire complex, Mr. President, to walk from your office to the next building would already use up the remaining minutes you have to breastfeed. 

So we need employers to be mindful of this, because otherwise, we do not set up the environment for successful breastfeeding.

My final call to action is for the LGUs. as our colleague, Senator Gordon, said, breastfeeding must also be present in disaster risk situations, in evacuation stations, the picture I have there is actually my sister-in-law, Fille, who breastfed three of her babies, she’s there to give support to the evacuation center that was set up by my brother, Mayor Lino Cayetano. And again, this was compliant with the law and it is required that every LGU provides the support that a breastfeeding mother and family needs. 

So I end my privilege speech. Thank you so much, Mr. President, to our colleagues, who listened to this. For those who have been here for 12 years, for listening to me on this topic, for 12 years. Thank you very much. #

*Privilege speech delivered on the Senate session on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

Senator Pia: “We need employers to be mindful of [the law allowing paid lactation breaks for nursing employees], because otherwise, we do not set up the environment for successful breastfeeding.”

Breastfeeding vital to achieving sustainable dev’t goals

Senator Pia S. Cayetano called for the cooperation of all sectors in supporting the culture of breastfeeding among Filipina mothers to ensure the health of succeeding generations of young Filipinos, which she said is vital to achieving the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

A staunch breastfeeding advocate, Cayetano authored the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 (RA 10028) which mandates paid lactation breaks for nursing employees in the workplace, and the establishment of breastfeeding rooms in public places, like shopping malls, government facilities, and transport hubs such as airports, seaports, and bus stations. 

“Breastfeeding safeguards the well-being of babies and mothers. It ensures a healthy future for the child, positively affects the mother’s health, and thus enables the family to be better members of the community,” the senator said on Breastfeeding Month which is celebrated in August .

“The gains we’ve made since the passage of RA 10028 ten years ago are the results of our social investments in breastfeeding. We should press on in helping mothers breastfeed and educating them on its importance,” she added. 

“I know it is not easy, especially for working mothers because I also breastfed my children. I’ve become an advocate ever since,” shared the senator, who worked as a corporate lawyer prior to entering politics in 2004. 

“Our objective is to create a favorable environment for Filipina mothers to fully embrace breastfeeding, especially among young and new mothers,” Cayetano said, adding that this would require cooperation from both government and the private sector.

To ensure that Philippine Congress itself complies with the law it passed and become ‘breastfeeding-friendly’ institutions under RA 10028, Cayetano personally worked for the establishment of lactation rooms for nursing employees in both the Senate (in August 2014) and the House of Representatives (in March 2019). 

Cayetano also helped set up human milk banks in Taguig City and Cebu City, and sponsored breastfeeding seminars and milk donation campaigns in various places across the country as part of her Pinay In Action (PIA) advocacy. 

The senator said the social benefits from supporting breastfeeding should bring the country closer towards achieving Goal 2 (“achieve zero hunger”) and Goal 3 (“ensure good health and well-being”) of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 

She noted that even the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recognizes the vital role of breastfeeding in achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNICEF notes that breastfeeding can help achieve many of the 17 SDGs, including the goals on health, poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, and sustainable consumption.

“We need to take stronger initiatives to build on our gains. Let’s always remember that a healthy community is a sustainable community. If we want to achieve our sustainable development goals, let’s first make our babies and mothers healthy,” Cayetano concluded.#

Standing proudly in front of a breastfeeding room at a shopping mall in Cavite. The establishment of lactation stations in public places is one of the highlights of Cayetano’s Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (RA 10028).
Breastfeeding-friendly workplace: Senator Pia Cayetano with breastfeeding employees at the lactation room that Cayetano helped establish at the the Senate in 2014.

Pia reveals ‘3 gifts’ for women on Int’l Women’s Day

Good health, free choice, and equal opportunities.
These are the three ‘gift’ every Filipina deserves to receive and enjoy, senatorial candidate Pia S. Cayetano said on the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8.


“Dahil espesyal ang araw na ito, gusto kong ipaabot sa bawat Pilipina ang tatlong mahahalagang regalong ito: Gift of Health o Kalusugan, Free Choice o Malayang Pagpili, at Equal Opportunities o Patas na Pagkakataon,’ Cayetano said in a speech delivered in a mix of Ilonggo, Filipino and English before thousands of political supporters at the PDP-Laban rally in Victorias City, Negros Occidental on Friday,
Firstly, the Taguig representative stressed the need to provide quality affordable healthcare services for women employees, given the dual role they play as mothers and members of theworkforce.


“Gusto ko pong mabigyan ng malusog na pangangatawan ang ating mga nanay lalo na pagkatapos manganak. Mahalaga ding makaiwas ang inyong mga anak sa anumang sakit,” shestressed.
The staunch health advocate then cited two laws she authored on maternal and child health, namely, the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law (Republic Act 11210), which was signed recently by President Rodrigo Duterte, and the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act (Republic Act 10152).


Furthermore, Cayetano said women deserve to be accorded the ‘Gift of Free Choice,’ particularly in planning the number and spacing of their children and preparing for their family’sfuture.
According to Cayetano, this was her inspiration in fighting for the passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act in 2012 (Republic Act 10354). The law grants Filipino families, especially the poor, free access to family planning services and commodities.


Meanwhile, recognizing the crucial role of women in sustained economic growth, the congresswoman expressed her commitment to continue championing initiatives that provide equal opportunities for women in the workplace.


“Dapat po ay husay at abilidad ang basehan para makapag-trabaho, hindi ang kasarian o edad ng isang tao,” stressed Cayetano, who also authored the Anti-Age Discrimination inEmployment Law (Republic Act 10911), which primarily seeks to help women who become victims of age discrimination in job hiring and employment.


“This is my message to all the hardworking Filipinas this Women’s Day. Mananatili po akong handa na maglingkod sa inyo at sa inyong mga pamilya. We will keep working hard to ensure for you these three gifts, not only on Women’s Day, but every day of every year,” Cayetano concluded. #

Pia leads breastfeeding room launch in Congress

‘Perfect gift for HREP women employees on Women’s Month’

House Deputy Speaker and Taguig City representative Pia S. Cayetano on Monday led the inauguration of the first breastfeeding room for nursing female employees of the House of Representatives (HREP) in Quezon City.


The breastfeeding room resulted from the initiative of Cayetano, who had written the House leadership requesting the establishment of the facility as mandated by law. A similar request was also made to the House leaders in a separate letter sent by a group of breastfeeding mothers employed at the House.


It was Cayetano, then a senator, who pushed for the passage of Republic Act 10028, or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act, which mandated paid lactation breaks for nursing mothers during work hours, and the establishment of lactation rooms in public places and facilities, as well as government and private offices.


The landmark law was signed in 2009 by then President and current House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Thank you to everyone who made this happen. To [Committee on Women and Gender Equality chair, Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy], to the Speaker and Secretary General… I hope we can continue working together to support women in the workforce,” Cayetano said.

“If there are three mothers this month that will have the pleasure of using this lactation room, that would translate to three babies being breastfed longer and protected better,” she added.

“What could be a better gift for nursing employees of the House of Representatives on Women’s Month than a breastfeeding room they could access in their own workplace? This facility is also open to non-employees, or breastfeeding mothers who happen to be visiting Congress,” she continued.

“I hope we can see the establishment of more lactation rooms in the next months to come. The objective is to make it convenient for a mother to breastfeed. We want breastfeeding to be thefirst choice and, if possible, the only choice for mothers to ensure the health of our children,” Cayetano said.

The former senator was joined at the inauguration by Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, House Acting Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling, HREP officials and pregnant and nursing employees of the House.

This was not the first time the Taguig representative personally worked for the proper implementation of RA 10028 in an institution tasked to craft and pass laws. During her term as Senator, Cayetano also pushed for the opening of a breastfeeding room at the Philippine  Senate headquarters in Pasay City. #

House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano is joined by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (BH Party-List), House officials led by OIC Secretary General Roberto Maling and nursing and pregnant women employees at the launch of the first breastfeeding room at the House of Representatives.
The breastfeeding room was initiated by House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano, who delivered a privilege speech and wrote a letter to the House leadership, and a group of nursing moms employed at the House of Representatives who made a separate request to Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Expanded maternity leave puts PH at par with ASEAN, ILO standards

The passage of Republic Act 11210 or the 105-Day Expanded bMaternity Leave Law will allow women workers in the Philippines to be at par with their counterparts in South East Asia in terms of maternity leave benefits.

At the same time, the measure signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last week would enable the country to meet the standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

It should be noted that the ILO recommends 14 weeks, or 98 days, of maternity leave to allow working moms sufficient time to recover from childbirth and take care of their newborn before reporting back for work.

“This law is our government’s best gift to working moms and Filipino families as we approach March, which is International Women’s Month,” said House Deputy Speaker and senatorialcandidate Pia S. Cayetano, one the law’s principal authors and sponsors.

“From the bottom of the list, we now belong among the top countries in ASEAN providing sufficient maternity leave for their women workers,” she noted.

RA 11210 extended the maternity leave from 60 and 78 days (for natural and caesarian childbirth, respectively) to 105 days.

Vietnam currently offers the longest maternity leave in the region at 180 days, while Singapore ranks second with 112 days.

Brunei, Laos, and now, the Philippines, provide 105 days; Myanmar and Thailand 98 days; while Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia round up the list with 90 days.

“It takes two houses of Congress (the house and Senate) and the President’s approval to pass a law” Cayetano, the measure’s original proponent in the 16th Congress, stressed.

It will be recalled that Cayetano filed and sponsored the earlier version of the expanded maternity leave bill as the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality in the 16th Congress. The measure was approved by the Senate in 2016.

However, since the House of Representatives did not pass its version at the time, Cayetano had to refile her Senate-approved bill, this time in the House, after she was elected representative of Taguig City in the current 17th Congress.

“I thank and congratulate everyone who was part of the legislative process, including my colleagues in Congress, government agencies, and of course, our President who signed the bill into law after careful deliberation. The most important thing is that our people will benefit – mothers , fathers, [and] the entire family,” Cayetano concluded. #

From the bottom of the list, the Philippines now joins the ranks of top ASEAN countries giving sufficient maternity leave to women workers at 105 days.

Bicam approves Expanded Maternity Leave Bill!

Statement of Deputy Speaker and Taguig City 2D Representative Pia S. Cayetano

Principal author, House Bill 4113

“I have very good news because the on this day, the Senate and the House met to discuss the disagreeing provisions of our Expanded Maternity Leave Bill. We have come to our final version, which is a 105 Days Expanded Maternity Leave Bill.  All that is left to do is to bring this measure back to our respective Chambers for the members to concur with, before sending it to Malacanang for approval.”

“In a nutshell, we now have 105 days of maternity leave, and seven (7) of those days may be given to the father of the baby, since the recommendation under the ILO (International Labor Organization) is at least 98 days. So a mother has the option of giving seven days to her partner.

“In addition, we will have extended maternity leave not just for those in the public sector, or those working in government, but also the private sector, the informal sector (yung mga self-employed din basta nagbabayad kayo ng SSS – SSS will cover a fraction), and then the employers will pay for the difference. Athletes are also covered.

“We also tackled a number of other clarifications to ensure that it’s very clear that a maternity leave can be availed of anytime before giving birth or after. Some people go on leave, let’s say five days, or thirty days before (giving birth), so that would all be covered.

“After so many years, this bill will soon become a law. This was my ‘baby’ ever since I was in the Senate. My team and I wrote the original version (Senate Bill 2982, which was passed by the Senate on third reading in the 16th Congress), that’s why I’m very familiar with the provisions. And so I take the opportunity to thank my team: Those who started in the Senate, and those who are still with me now, for the work that you put in to make this pass. Thank you to those who helped push for the measure, including my colleagues and all the advocates who had been supporting this ever since. I’m so happy with the outcome of this bill.” #

Pia lauds Big Latch On moms in Cebu

Deputy Speaker and Taguig City Representative Pia S. Cayetano on Saturday joined 317 mothers in Cebu City who simultaneously breastfed their babies in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.

The principal author of the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (RA 10028), Cayetano relayed her support to the organizers and participants of the ‘Big Latch On’ (BLO) for actively raising public awareness and promoting the culture of breastfeeding among mothers in their respective communities.

The BLO which was organized by Glory Reborn Organization with several mothers’ groups, conducted a simultaneous ‘latch on’ for one minute in several locations, including SM Seaside, SM Consolacion, and three hospitals in Cebu.

Among the laws she has sponsored as a member of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Cayetano said RA 10028 was among the ones she was proudest of for having a direct impact on the health and welfare of mothers and their children nationwide.

RA 10028 directs employers to provide paid lactation breaks for their nursing female employees to allow the latter to express their milk during work hours.

The establishment of breastfeeding stations, which have now become a common sight in public places like government institutions, malls, and workplaces is also mandated under the law.

She expressed optimism that the 17th Congress would soon pass the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill, a related measure which she also authored.

The Expanded Maternity Bill seeks to extend the maternity leave to 100 days which would she said would allow working mothers to have enough time to exclusively breastfeed their newborn before they report back for work. (August 9, 2018) #