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Solons seek to help sectors facing economic difficulties

May 15, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 239 views

Pushes more benefits, privileges

FIVE lawmakers sought benefits and privileges for public social workers, pregnant women, and municipal fisherfolk who continue to face economic hardships nowadays.

Under House Bill (HB) 7573 filed by Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, and ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Edvic Yap, they have proposed that the entry-level pay of public social workers be increased from Salary Grade 10 or P23,176 to Salary Grade 13, which is equivalent to P31,320.

They have pushed for the increase in pay of public social workers “in recognition of the indispensable role that these unsung heroes” play in assisting the poor and other vulnerable sectors of society.

“Public social workers go to extreme lengths to make our citizens feel the government’s presence and assistance, and it is only appropriate to establish necessary measures to recognize their heroic deeds and invaluable dedication,” the bill’s authors said.

Despite the enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 9433 or the Magna Carta Public Social Workers Act, Duterte and his fellow authors pointed out that social workers “remain to be one of the least incentivized” government employees, notwithstanding their vital task of helping underprivileged Filipinos during times of crisis.

Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Ray Reyes said the government should do more to ensure easier medical access to pregnant Filipino women.

“Kailangang maglaan pa tayo ng mas maraming resources para masigurong may sapat at madaling access sa health services ang mga kababaihan sa kanilang pagdadalang-tao at panganganak,” Reyes said.

This, is after United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Philippines noted that around six to seven Filipino women die during pregnancy and childbirth due to lack of access to health services.

Her statement was based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data, which showed that 2,478 women died of maternal causes in 2021, up from 1,458 in 2019.

Reyes highlighted the need to bring health services to the people, particularly in rural areas. “Dehado ang mga kababaihan sa mga geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) dahil mas malaki ang kailangan nilang gastusin para makakuha ng health services.”

“Kaya mahalaga na inilalapit natin ang serbisyo sa kanila. Ito ang paulit-ulit na panawagan natin sa AnaKalusugan. We have to prioritize public health and help our people cope with the costs that health services entail,” Reyes added.

AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee has filed a bill to guarantee a fuel subsidy for municipal fisherfolk by providing a fuel voucher not lower than one thousand pesos (P1,000) per month.

Under HB No. 8007 or the “Pantawid Pambangka Act of 2023,” the Department of Agriculture (DA) is mandated to administer the monthly subsidy program, in which the amount will be revised every year to account for inflation.

“Despite the fishing sector’s major contribution, our fishermen continue to be among the fundamental sectors’ poorest people. Hindi po makatarungan na kung sino pa ang producer ng pagkain, sila pa ang napapabayaan at pinaka-naghihirap,” Lee said.

According to PSA’s Fisheries Situation Report for Major Species, total fisheries production grew to 4,339.89 thousand metric tons or by 2.2% in 2022 as compared to the previous year’s output of 4,248.26 thousand metric tons.

The report noted increases in production in marine municipal fisheries and aquaculture, while commercial and inland municipal fisheries reported setbacks during the year.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the municipal and aquaculture sub-sectors contributed 73% to the total production of the fisheries sector from 2011 to 2020.

Based on the preliminary estimates of PSA’s 2021 poverty statistics, fisherfolk registered the highest poverty incidence rate of 30.6%, higher than the 26.2% recorded in 2018.

“Nakakalungkot at nakakabahala ito. Ang ating mga mangingisda ang isa sa mga pinaka-apektado kapag may kalamidad. Kasama sila sa pinaka-tinatamaan sa pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina at ng basic commodities. In their meager income, how can our fishers provide food, medicine, education, clothing, shelter, fund for emergencies for their family?” Lee asked.

“Kaya malaking tulong na magarantiya ang ayuda sa ating mga mangingisda. Sa insentibong ito ng gobyerno, hindi lang natin ipinapakita ang pagpapahalaga natin sa kanilang malaking kontribusyon, mapapataas din ang produksyon at kita nila, na pakikinabangan din ng consumers; Winner Tayo Lahat,” he added.

The beneficiaries of this measure shall be municipal fisherfolk who fish within municipal waters, whether coastal or inland, and who use motorized fishing vessels of three (3) gross tons or less: Provided that they are registered under the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration of the BFAR.

If passed into law, beneficiaries of the program will be automatically enrolled and covered under the National Health Insurance program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). The Social Security System (SSS) shall also provide microinsurance mechanisms to beneficiaries.

The equivalent of 10% of any increase in the collections of the excise tax on fuel shall be earmarked for the implementation of this Act, which shall be indicated as a separate line item under the annual appropriations of the DA under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).