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.”

Transcript of media interview (July 31, 2019)

Reporter: Ma’am, ‘Yung una po muna, hingi lang pong reaction dun sa biro ng Pangulo kahapon na, “When will your dynasty end?” 

Sen. Pia: Yeah, so first of all, biro nga ‘yun, ‘diba? So biro ‘yun, so if you ask me, biro. So I’ll leave it at that, kasi there are more important issues there. And that’s the TESDA App that was just launched [in Taguig City], which I feel is so interesting. And I think we should draw attention to what the important issues are, not a joke. 

But on that note, that is also something that I’m always willing to talk about. Kasi when you talk about dynasty, I always ask, let’s talk about governance. And I think with all due humility, the President’s high regard for our family, for my brother, is evident in no less than his being his endorsed Speaker. 

So, we’re so proud… I call on everyone to judge the new Speaker on the work that he will do. I’m so excited to be back in the Senate. I’m so excited for the work that I have to do as the new Chair of the Committee of Ways and Means and Chair also of the Committee on Sustainable Development. 

So, we want to be judged on the work that we do. That’s an open book, and we want to really do the kind of job that will make the Filipinos proud that they elected us. Let’s make it clear, we were elected. 

Reporter: Ma’am, does it also mean that you as part of the Senate or Congress will not support the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill? 

Sen. Pia: No. I’ve always said and you can always just refer to my statements on this. I always have an open mind on any issue that is brought on the floor. That has always been the position I’ve taken. 

I may have biases, so when you look… I did a quick scan on the political dynasty bills, and there are different definitions of political dynasty. So… it’s my job to have an open mind and to look at it. 

Reporter: ‘Yung Dissolution of Marriage Bill niyo po, can you explain lang, divorce po ba ito? Ano po ang mga magiging changes nito compared sa annulment?

Sen. Pia: That’s a very good question. And I think ang question niyo should be directed at those people who do not like the term “divorce.” You should ask them what they mean by dissolution of marriage versus divorce because I do not know.

I humbly have to say that I do not know what the difference is, but as one of the authors of the bill in the House of Representatives, I believe it was entitled, “Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage” precisely to address the discomfort that some had with the term, “divorce.”

But if may difference ‘yun, the title is there… But ako naman, as the author here also in the Senate, happy naman ako to listen to any and all concerns. I’m just happy that it’s being discussed.

For the record, there are three kinds of bills that were filed in the House. And I’ve refiled so far two of them – the Absolute Divorce or Dissolution [of Marriage], that’s one. And then the other one is the Foreign Divorce, which is actually already an existing form of divorce, actually the only form of divorce recognized in our Family Code. 

We just fine-tuned some details, which we were told for the last almost decade na it becomes a stumbling block for making that provision in the existing Family Code easy to use. It’s become very cumbersome for people to use because of lack of clarity. So ‘yun lang ‘yung sa Foreign Divorce.

Reporter: Ma’am, sa dissolution of marriage, paano siya naiba sa annulment, ma’am?

Sen. Pia: If you look at Article 36 on Annulment, the only ground there is the psychological incapacity. That is the existing ground that we have under our Family Code. So the grounds for divorce that I filed, there are more grounds. Some of them are similar to the grounds for legal separation. So that’s the easiest way.

You know what, I’d be very happy to have a forum on this and to answer more questions, kasi well it’s something that I’ve really worked on and I really believe in, so I’m happy to answer questions para walang… para people would understand, parang FAQs. 

Reporter: Why do you think is it time for the Philippines to legalize divorce?

Sen. Pia: My answer to that is based on scientific evidence. We went to three countries, [for consultations held by] the House of Representatives, where we had a lot of kababayans. 

I would say it’s partly because of that one bill, that is on the Foreign Divorce, because we have so many kababayans who are married to foreigners. But we also realized that so many of our kababayans are married to Filipinos and therefore, their need would be a regular divorce or dissolution of marriage. 

And so we went to Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Japan, and we had hearings in the House and I have met with so many groups espousing divorce, and the stories are so sad. I hear one story, I think, “Wow, this is the worst,” and then I hear another story, it’s about mostly women – but of course it applies to both – women who after their husbands have left them, beaten them up, had another family, had other wives, they’re still supporting that man. Because under the law, they are required to support the man. 

And even – in this particular story – even her grown children were saying, “Nay, iwanan mo na si Tatay.” Eh pero she feels that she has a legal obligation, a moral obligation, until ma-divorce ‘yun. Baka sabihin niyo, ba’t hindi annulment? Eh kasi sa annulment, some of them don’t want to avail of it, because wala naman daw silang psychological incapacity to fulfill their obligations. Pinaninindigan nila na hindi sila pasok doon. 

You can… As soon as we start discussing this, I know that my Facebook will be flooded with questions on divorce. Kahit anong topic ang pag-usapan, laging meron pa ring bumabalik sa divorce. And all over the country, during the campaign, I was asked repeatedly about it…

Reporter: Have you looked at the chances here in the Senate?

Sen. Pia: I haven’t really bothered. As you know nga, the committees that I will be chairing this Congress are new to me. So, dun ako naka-focus. I haven’t really had time. It’s just that I’ve also read what you’ve read na most people tend to be open-minded because they’ve also heard stories of people they know, people who come to them. So I’d like to believe, I’d like to hope that people would have an open mind. 

And what I always reiterate, for those who are against it, you don’t have to avail of it. For those who are against it, in your own church, in your own religious organization, you can continue to believe what you want to believe. That is your supreme right. And never ko po aapakan or never ko… Wala ho akong karapatan na kwestyunin ang paniniwala ng mga tao when it comes to spiritual and religious reasons. 

But when it comes to legal, it is my obligation to have an open mind and pass laws that will be applicable to all Filipinos who want to avail of it. Kasi remember, this is a kind of law that is not mandatory, this is a kind of law people can avail of. ‘Yun ‘yun eh, may difference ‘yun. 

Reporter: So parang it’s a privilege?

Sen. Pia: Let’s say it’s an option. Baka mamaya may legal implication pa ‘yung privilege. It’s an option. 

Reporter: Sorry ma’am, additional grounds, irreconcilable differences, ano pa ‘yung mga possible grounds?

Sen. Pia: Give me time na balikan ko ‘yun, kasi ganun ako eh. Move on na ako sa ibang bills after napasa ‘yun sa House. I was hoping napasa na ‘yun sa [17th] Congress. Let me just go back to it and then I’ll discuss it further.

Reporter: Last na po, aside from the grounds, what else are the advantages of divorce over annulment? Kasi sabi nila may annulment na nga bakit pa may divorce?

Sen. Pia: Ah hindi. Kasi if you look at our provision on Annulment, any law student can tell you, we have one article on it. That’s it. One article – Article 36. There’s actually no provisions on support, they just use by analogy other provisions on support. There are no provisions on the procedure, so the bill that we filed, the bill that is the product of the House… 

I’ll reiterate ‘House,’ kasi I was in the House of Representatives, lagay niyo na lang ‘yun as background, baka malito ang ibang tao na what I’m talking about na bill na na-hear, that was while I was in the House. This is a product of lengthy discussions and so there’s a lot more details in it, including support, including what is known in other countries as alimony, napag-usapan din ‘yun kasi issue ‘yun. Some believe na in other countries, dahil sa walang forever, pero ‘yung support may forever. So mabigat daw, mabigat. 

So we had long discussions about that, and we tried to look for middle ground na there would be, if I remember right, please let’s confirm it lang, three years of support for the spouse who was dependent on the working spouse. Kasi ‘yung objective nga is mag-move on ka na, try to get gainfully employed also, give that person enough time to also gainfully…

But I wanna have an open mind about it if kailangan longer, kasi the objective din naman is to not abandon the spouse who dedicated their life to being a homemaker, whether it’s a man or a woman, it applies both ways.

But kaya ko rin naisip na hindi rin tama na ‘yung forever kasi paano kung ‘yung breadwinner, katulad ng mga na-meet ko na OFW? Tapos 20 years na siyang nagtatrabaho dun, sinusuportahan niya ang asawa niya, and then worst case, ‘yung asawa niya na nambabae na nagkaanak na sa iba, baka siya pa magbibigay ng support forever because siya ang technically working, you know what I mean? 

So you have to weigh these things. Sasabihin, yeah, pero si mister naman sa bahay ‘yung nag-aalaga ng mga anak, pero nangaliwa din siya. So iba-balance mo rin lahat ‘yun eh. So, I can’t pretend that there’s a simple, easy, hundred percent fair, but we have to do our best.

Reporter: ‘Yung finile niyo po, that was the same bill that was passed in the House last [17th] Congress?

Sen. Pia: Yes, but I’m very open pa to even making my own amendments to it.

Reporter: So kung ano ang pumasa sa House, ‘yun ang ni-refile niyo?

Sen. Pia: Oo, kasi you have to remember, that was a product of members of the House. Eh nandito na ako [Senate, 18th Congress], so kapag nandito naman ako, minsan naman nagkakaroon din ako ng bagong ideas, and then syempre… Ano naman ‘yun, kumbaga free for all ulit.

[Inaudible question]

Sen. Pia: Ay tapos na siya, pasado siya [by the House in the 17th Congress]. Oo, walang nangyari dito [sa Senate in the 17th Congress].

[Inaudible question]

Sen. Pia: That’s a good question, I have to say that it’s kinda my observation also, I don’t know kung may survey talaga. But it’s kinda my observation pagka ganun, ‘yung mga babae, “Yes!” Ta’s ‘yung mga lalaki, “‘Wag na ‘yan…”

Reporter: Pero do you find it a relief na ‘yung mga [inaudible – senators] most of them at least open to discussion?

Sen. Pia: Ganito, sa dami ng trabaho ko, kasi nga ‘yung mga bagong committees ko, and again, I have to emphasize ‘yung Committee on Sustainable Development, andaming sakop nun, syempre happy ako kung kahit anong bill na sinusulong ko maraming support, dahil mababawasan din ‘yung trabaho ko dahil wala na ako masyadong kukumbinsihin. So I’m always happy naman na open-minded, or may support, or willing to discuss, I’m always happy. Thank you!# 

Senator Pia Cayetano answers questions from the Senate media.

Full implementation of RPRH Law pushed on World Population Day

The full and intensified implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (RPRH Law) is necessary to ‘empower’ the Filipino population and help bring down poverty levels in the country.

This was emphasized by Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Thursday, World Population Day (July 11), a global observation meant to raise awareness on population issues and finding solutions related to population growth.    

The principal sponsor of the RPRH Law, Cayetano said previous delays in enforcing the landmark measure have hampered government efforts to maximize gains from economic development and effectively redistributing available resources to benefit the population. 

But she noted how the situation has changed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, which has placed the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP) as a major component of its poverty reduction strategy. 

First introduced through the RPRH Law, the NPPFP seeks to avert unwanted and unplanned pregnancies by giving Filipinos universal access to reproductive health and family planning information, devices, and services. The NPPFP also aims to empower couples and women to attain their ideal number of children through responsible parenthood.   

“From his very first State of the Nation Address, President Duterte has indicated strong political will to fully carry out the RPRH Law as part of his administration’s socio-economic reforms to address poverty,” Cayetano pointed out.

“The full and intensified implementation of the RPRH Law, in partnership with sound economic policies and effective management of our human resources would be the key drivers in attaining sustainable and inclusive growth in the second half of President Duterte’s term,” she added.  

Cayetano noted that the President has backed up his first SONA by directing all government agencies to implement the RPRH Law to attain zero unmet need for family planning, and by providing sufficient budget to attain NPPFP’s goals.

The Philippine population is expected to hit 109 million by the end of 2019, according to projections of the Commission of Population. The country currently has the highest fertility rate in Southeast Asia at 2.7 per woman, and has one of the region’s fastest-growing populations, with an annual average growth rate of 1.6 percent. 

On the other hand, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is targeting to increase modern contraceptive rate to 65 percent and lower fertility rate to 2.1 average children per woman by 2022. 

Under the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, NEDA seeks to reap economic benefits from a young, healthy, well-educated and highly skilled working-age population, and ultimately reduce poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022 from 21.6 percent in 2015. #

File photo: In a forum, Senator Pia Cayetano recalls the struggle that advocates went through to pass the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.

Second batch of bills filed to advance PH development goals

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Monday (July 8) filed ten more bills in the Senate to support the Duterte administration’s efforts in attaining the country’s sustainable development goals. 

The returning senator said her second batch of bills reinforces her vision of helping the country meet its targets in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 and the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In pursuit of Goal 3 of the SDGs, which is to ensure healthy lives and promote the wellbeing for all, Cayetano is pushing for programs to provide better healthcare services and facilities to Filipinos, particularly on reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health. 

These include three bills seeking to provide one midwife in every barangay; establish specialty centers in government hospitals and medical centers; and the promotion of Folic Acid food fortification and supplementation.

Furthermore, the senator filed measures aimed at upholding the country’s commitment to Goal 13 of the SDGs, which is to implement policies towards climate change mitigation.

Among these is the bill establishing the Department of Disaster Resilience, which will become the country’s primary agency in charge of responding to disasters and mitigating its impacts.

Other pro-environmental bills filed by Cayetano include the proposed ‘Sustainable Forest Management Act,’ which provides for the conservation of the country’s forest lands and resources; and the ‘Bicycle Act of 2019,’ which proposes to recognize bicycles as an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation.

Apart from these, Cayetano is pushing for the ‘Tulong Puhunan’ bill to institutionalize nationwide microfinance programs for the development of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs). This is in line with Goal 8 of the SDGs – to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. The measure is also inspired by the success of the Presyo Trabaho Kita (PTK) program, a brainchild of the senator’s brother, Taguig Representative Alan Cayetano, which helps provide seed capital to people’s organizations across different sectors nationwide. 

“Let this be a testament of our continued commitment to achieve the collective aspirations of Filipinos, as embodied in the government’s ‘Ambisyon Natin 2040’ vision, where every family enjoys ‘Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay,’” the senator stressed.

Cayetano likewise filed pro-youth and -family measures during the second week, including the Magna Carta of Student-Athletes; Increasing the Maximum Value of the Family Home; as well as an Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines.

“My objective is to keep championing the rights and welfare of every member of the family. This has been my fight ever since. Hopefully, with the help of our colleagues in Congress, our legislative action plans can help us attain our shared vision for a better country,” the senator concluded. #

Pia files first 10 bills in support of PH development goals

Returning senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed her first 10 bills in the Senate with the aim of fulfilling her campaign promise to champion legislation that will help achieve the country’s development goals. 

Her proposed measures, Cayetano stressed, are anchored on the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations (UN) Member-States, including the Philippines, in 2015.

The PDP 2017-2022 is the first medium-term plan launched by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) under the Duterte administration, leading to a vision known as “AmBisyon Natin 2040,” where Filipino families are seen to enjoy a “strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life” in 25 years.

The SDGs, meanwhile, are a collection of 17 global goals set by the UN General Assembly, with strategies geared towards improving health and education, reducing inequality, spurring economic growth, and addressing climate change.
In line with these goals, Cayetano filed her first batch of bills in the Senate and plans to file more measures in the coming weeks to address challenges hindering sustainable and inclusive growth for the country. 

Furthermore, she vowed to continue focusing on her long-time advocacies as a legislator, including education, health, women and family welfare, and sustainable communities.

Among Cayetano’s priority measures are:

1. Alternative Child Care Code of the Philippines 

2. Educational Roadmap Act 

3. Priority Health Infrastructure Act (Build, Build, Build for Health)

4. Priority Infrastructure for Public Higher Education Institutions Act (Build, Build, Build for Education)

5. Sustainable Cities and Communities Act

6. Sustainable Transportation Act

7. Act Recognizing the Foreign Decree of Termination of Marriage

8. Amendments to the Family Code of the Philippines (to ensure the equality of men and women under the laws of marriage and family relations) 

9. Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act

10. Act Providing for Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education (Teachers salary increase)


“We already have a set of goals that we envision for future generations of Filipinos. What we need is a comprehensive action plan to ensure that our goals will be met,” Cayetano said.

“For my part, I will continue what I started since my first term as a legislator and push for more laws to empower Filipinos through education, proper healthcare services, children and family welfare policies, and sustainable development,” the senator concluded.#

Pia grateful to President Duterte for support

A few days before the upcoming mid-term elections on May 13, senatorial candidate Pia S. Cayetano expressed her gratitude to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for his show of support for her bid to return to the Senate. 

“Napakahalaga ng endorsement ng ating Pangulo. It has a great impact and it is very personal to me,” the congresswoman said in a radio interview in Davao City on Thursday (May 9).

Cayetano shared that her close relationship with the President dates back to the first time she ran for Senate in 2003, during which she sought the support of the then Davao City Mayor, who was also friends with her late father, former Senator Rene Cayetano.

“[President Duterte] had always supported me as a senator. I also used to visit him in Davao to seek his advice on relevant issues, and he would share with me his perspective as a mayor,” Cayetano noted. 

“Kaya tuwing sinasabi niya na maayos ang trabaho ko, it really means a lot to me dahil alam kong alam niya ang aking trabaho,” she added.
President Duterte had expressed his support for Cayetano’s senatorial bid on several occasions, stressing that the lady lawmaker has legislated “so many good things for the Filipino people.”

He also said that it was Cayetano who asked him to sign into law the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Act for the benefit of working mothers. Cayetano was among the proponents of the bill in Congress.

“The President knows that I am happy with the enactment of this landmark measure. I am very grateful that he appreciates my work for Filipino women,” the Taguig representative said.

“If given the chance, I will continue to look for more solutions to address the concerns of Filipino families throughout the country,” Cayetano concluded. #

Senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano thanking President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for signing into law the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Act. #

Expanded Maternity Leave best Labor Day gift for working moms

Senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano on Wednesday (May 1) welcomed the full implementation of the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) Law, following the signing of the measure’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on May 1, Labor Day. 

The principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11210 or the EML Law, Cayetano attended the Ceremonial Signing of the IRR in San Fernando, Pampanga, where she talked about the vital role of women as mothers and as members of the country’s workforce.

“Women play a dual role in our society, hindi lang trabaho sa opisina kundi trabaho sa bahay at pag-aalaga ng pamilya. Therefore, being a mother is something that we need to compensate,” the congresswoman stressed.

The ceremonial signing was part of the 117th Labor Day Celebration spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), with the theme “Pagpupugay sa Manggagawang Pilipino.”

“Magandang balita ito dahil ibig sabihin ay tuloy na tuloy na and ready to be implemented ang Expanded Maternity Leave Law. This is a great gift to working mothers this Labor Day,” Cayetano said.

On the other hand, the Taguig representative clarified that the law’s effectivity already started as early as March, 15 days following its publication in the Official Gazette.

“The good news is, hindi lang May 1 ang effectivity kung hindi noong March pa. Kaya sa lahat po ng mga nanay na nanganak simula noon, 105 days na ang maternity leave credits niyo,” Cayetano explained.

A known women’s advocate, Cayetano had been fighting for the law’s passage since her term in the Senate. 

She believes that working mothers should be allowed more than 60 days to recover from childbirth and also to take care of their newborn babies.

“Women who are given enough time to take care of their families are also more likely to be productive at work. Kaya ibigay na natin sa mga working mothers ang 105 days maternity leave para pagbalik nila ay mas makapag-focus sila sa trabaho,” she noted.#

Senatoriable Pia S. Cayetano (in pink) applauds the signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law, of which she was the principal author and sponsor.

Better use of funds for health services pushed

Senatorial candidate Pia S. Cayetano vowed to push for a better utilization of government funds to build and improve public health facilities throughout the country and to provide them with state-of-the-art equipment. 

The Taguig representative on Monday (April 15) visited the Compostela Valley Provincial Hospital in Pantukan, where she discussed her health advocacy with the doctors and nurses working in the public hospital.

“If we can help in any way, please let us know. Let us know what we can do to push the policies na diretso sa inyo ang benepisyo, to make your lives better,” Cayetano told them.

She stressed the need to complement the newly enacted Universal Health Care (UHC) Law by ensuring that the health facilities and services made accessible to all Filipinos are properly equipped and of great quality. 

The UHC law, of which Cayetano was co-author, makes all Filipinos members of PhilHealth, thus making them eligible to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative health care services provided by government.

“You can be rest assured that, apart from the laws that we already made, we will keep on providing you with whatever intervention possible. Because sometimes, no matter how much you give, if you have limited facilities and equipment, the quality of health care services will be affected,” she said.

“My inspiration is to work to a point where the average Filipino has access to quality health care services,” she added. 

Cayetano then expressed her gratitude to the country’s public health workers for their dedication to protect the lives of every Filipino, especially the poor.

“Ang paghanga ko sa mga nagseserbisyo sa ating bayan, especially on healthcare, is really high. So please accept my gratitude to you for serving our people. And I want to remind you that your work never goes unnoticed,” she said. 

As former chair of the Senate the Committee on Health, Cayetano pushed for the passage of several landmark measures, including the Sin Tax Law, which led to the collection of billions worth of funds for the development of health centers and facilities.#

Senatoriable Pia S. Cayetano greets two nursing mothers at the Compostela Valley  Provincial Hospital in Pantukan on Monday (April 15). Cayetano has committed to work to make public health services more responsive once elected to the Senate.

Recognize role of mothers as unpaid family workers

Favors bill seeking to compensate stay-at-home mothers

Senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano on Thursday expressed support for the measure recognizing the important role of Filipina mothers, saying that stay-at-home moms deserve to receive compensation as society’s ‘unpaid workers.’

In an ambush interview with reporters in Naga City, the Taguig City Representative was asked about her stand on House Bill 8875, which seeks to provide P2,000 monthly subsidy for housewives and stay-at-home mothers. 

“Naniniwala ako na dapat may katumbas na halagang binibigay sa ‘trabaho’ ng mga nanay,” Cayetano responded. 

“I have always said that the woman is the unpaid worker. Mothers do not get compensated for the work that they do in their homes,” she added. 
Meanwhile, the congresswoman said there are different ways by which the government could provide support to Filipina mothers taking care of their families. 

“(The subsidy) could be monetary, it could be non-monetary. But at the end of the day, what I want is to give women more opportunities to earn income for their families even from the comfort of their homes,” she said. 

“We have to acknowledge the contribution of women to our country’s economy. This is why we need to help them, particularly the mothers, by giving them enough support.”

On the other hand, Cayetano said mothers can also be assisted by the government by giving them access to information and services on responsible family planning. 

The principal author and sponsor of Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, Cayetano said mothers should be given the opportunity to make responsible decisions regarding the number and spacing of their children. 

She said a fully implemented RH Law is needed to effectively and sustainably lift people from poverty. #

Senatoriable Pia S. Cayetano meets with mothers and youth leaders in Naga City to discuss her advocacies to make Filipino families’ lives better and more comfortable.