The Senate on Wednesday passed on second reading Senate Bill No. 1317 or “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof” that aims to amend the Labor Code of the Philippines.
The chairman of the Senate labor committee Senator Joel Villanueva said that the progress of the measure is an “important milestone” for the Senate and a proof that it “works expeditiously to guarantee the well-being of ordinary Filipinos.”
“I sincerely believe that we’ve said ‘yes’ to this measure not because this day, Valentine’s Day, is meant for love but certainly because we understand the importance of health and safety in our workplaces,” Villanueva said in his speech.
“It was in 2004 during the 13th Congress when this measure was first filed. Finally, after four Congresses, this important legislation is closer to becoming a law. There are many more work to be done to ensure that this measure will be enacted, and when that day comes, I’m sure it’s going to be a resounding victory to all our workers,” the senator added.
For the record, Villanueva, the author and sponsor of the bill, has urged the Senate to pass a stricter law that would penalize erring employers and impose more stringent regulations on OSH standards. The 41-year old Labor Code, at present, does not declare unlawful violations of OSHS.
“Obviously, this practice has not been successful in inculcating culture of OSH compliance nor in addressing wanton disregard of OSH standards,” Villanueva said.
The Senator has been urging the immediate passage of the bill following recent workplace accidents including the deadly fire incident in New City Commercial Center (NCCC) mall in Davao City that killed 38 workers and the massive fire that hit the Metro Ayala Center Cebu at the Cebu Business Park.
Villanueva earlier said that testimonies “substantiate the lack of compliance of some companies on our occupational safety and health standards.”
“Ang mga manggagawa po ang ‘puso’ ng anumang negosyo, maliit o malaki mang kumpanya, at kung aalagaan, pakaiingatan po natin sila, ilalayo sa sakit o kapahamakan, mamahalin din nila ang kanilang trabaho [The employees are the heart of any business, small or big company, and if we will take care of them, protect them, keep them from danger, they will love also their jobs],” Villanueva said.