- ON OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH STANDARDS LAW -
Karen Davila: Here with us at the studio this morning what he considers his landmark legislation, 14 years in the making, Senate Committee Chair on Labor Employment and Human Resources Development, Senator Joel Villanueva.
Senator Joel Villanueva: Hi, Karen!
KD: Thank you for coming, Senator Joel. Thank you, thank you.
SJV: Thank you for having me here.
KD: How important is this law?
SJV: Well, first of all, I'd like to thank the President for signing this measure, as you mentioned earlier, we have been pushing for this measure since I was a member of the House of Representatives, and after 14 years, this dream of ours to put this measure into becoming a law happened. You know for the longest time Karen, unfortunately, it is not the same as the calls for salary increases, etcetera, the intensity, and passion, of our workers to ask for it. Yung tinatawag na compliance to occupational safety and health standards unfortunately there is this a wrong, or I would say, an ambiguous a stand of some people that accidents do happen and if "it is your time, it’s your time." There is no such thing as policy as to can accidents be prevented or if it happens, pwede mag-mitigate at hindi masyadong fatal yung pangyayari, now that it is in place, kasi, it is so simple all you need to do is have and observe and establish protocols.
SJV: Just by guarding the machine, just by putting the right tools and equipment. Maiiwasan mo ito. So, with this law, matutuwa tayo because, Karen, 44 years old na ang Labor Code of the Philippines, mas matanda pa sa akin
SJV: And there is no such thing as violations, so with this, may violation, may fines, may penalty.
KD: Okay, so let's gives us a specific example, so this would fall the most I think, the most visual let's say it is a building, you are a contractor, you hire construction workers, carpenters. How does this law improve their state? Who will be liable, the contractor or the company?
SJV: Definitely the company should ensure that his or her workers would have a safe environment. 'Yung mga equipment dapat sila bumibili niyan. yung mga hard hats, yung harness. we have seen a lot of and heard a lot of accidents. nandyan yung Eton properties dito sa Makati. 'Yun pong HTI sa Cavite cost three deaths, 125 injuries, etc. with this, nakikita natin ang mangyayari lang, the DOLE or the regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment would just issue a work stoppage order. Kapag nakita nilang may violations, you are not being punished. Unlike for instance, Karen, in RA 8188, for instance, hindi pagbayad ng salaries, yung double indemnity, nandun na agad. May fine na agad, mayroon kaagad na penalty. Dito sa OSH violation, kahit namatay, may aksidente, wala. So with this (law), finally, you put the pressure not just on the employer's side, even with the worker's themselves. Kailangan kapag gagawa ka ng isang trabaho mo, kailangan alam mo you're oriented of the safety and the possible hazardous elements, na pwede kang magkasakit, etc. and at the same time, with this, any worker, can have the right to refuse to work if he or she feels na hindi siya safe doon sa kaniyang pagtatatrabahuhan. Kasi Karen, napaka hirap naman ito kaya...
KD: No, but if he refuses under the law, then the employer would say "Okay then you lose your job." What are the rights of that worker?
SJV: The worker can go to the Department of Labor and Employement and file a complaint that it is not safe for him or for her or there's a hazardous condition in the workplace. It is not safe to work. I will not be efficient; I will not be productive because my health is at stake. So these are the things na pwedeng i-claim ng ating mga mangagawa.
KD: What are the penalties, okay, for something, if you are found to be violating, okay, the safety rules?
SJV: That is a great question, Karen. During the bicameral conference committee hearing with our counterparts, and of course I would like to thank our counterparts, Cong. Ting for heading the labor committee in the House of Representatives, they agreed to adopt our Senate version that we will be imposing P100,000 per day upon the decision of the Department of Labor kapag napatunayan na you are violating OSH standards, yung Occupational Safety and Health standards.
KD: Oo! What do you mean P100,000 per day?
SJV: Per day, so everytime hindi mo kino-correct siya, so, the gravity of the penalty depends on the how long it is going to take for you to do something.
KD: Let us say namatay yan. Like yung Eton Properties and the other one you mentioned. Ang mahirap kasi they don't have the resources to file a case. So, under this law, what protection do they have?
SJV: Karen, doon sa mga namatay kasi ibang law na yun eh. Ang sa atin ay we are more proactive. Hindi na tayo passive kagaya nung nangyari. Mamatay, babayaran lang yung namatay, etc.
SJV: Ngayon, pag hindi safe yung workplaces nila, example walang harness, or yung scaffolding, for instance, doon sa I think Cavite, nung bumagsak eh simple scaffolding lang yun eh, wala sila, walang harness, etc. Pagka ganoon yung pagtatrabahuhan ng ating mga workers at makita mo na hindi safe at pinipilit pa rin nilang magtrabaho yung mga workers, then they will be fined.
KD: Yeah. So this is really a law for the companies and employers, for them to follow.
SJV: Yes. Under the law, Karen, we want to, it depends on the industry, depends upon the size of the company, they must have someone, for example, you have a hundred employees, mayroon kang full-time safety health officers.
KD: Ahh, that says it is there. It is a requirement.
SJV: Yes, yes, yes. That would be a requirement for big companies.
KD: That's good.
SJV: And requirement din that the companies would pay for their safety equipment. Personal safety equipment. Sila pa ba yung bibili? Sila yung gagawa and just to be safe? I think ito ay dapat responsibilidad ng mga employers.
KD: Okay! Alright! Well congratulations on that!
SJV: Thank you!
- ON XIAMEN AIRLINES MISHAP -
KD: Moving on, yesterday you were at a hearing regarding the Xiamen Airline mishap and I think you were unanimous in saying we need a new airport, right? Outside of Metro Manila?
SJV: Yes, definitely we need to do something to decongest our passengers in NAIA. When you say new airport it doesn't necessarily mean that you would put up a new airport right? Because one of the discussions during the hearing yesterday was that, the fastest way of addressing the issue is to come up with another runway in parallel
KD: Runway... to expand...
SJV: But the problem is yung mga subdivisions na nearby. But again, sa akin, if there is a will there is a way. Another thing is again, putting up airports. nandyan yung bini-build sa Bulacan. Unfortunately, after the NEDA approval, the NEDA board approval, hindi pa rin nag mo-move, at wala pa rin orders to proceed considering the fact that the government will not spend a single cent. So, these are the things. Parang ang bagal, Anu ba talaga ginagawa natin. But also we want to point out na we're not blaming or finger pointing here but I think the accountability must be established. Kasi 36 hours, Karen, for a simple... Nine hours after the offshoot of that particular plane, nine hours after doon ka tatawag ng crane? And that is the protocol? It is unaacceptable.
KD: So that was wrong. What else? What else did you discover in that hearing? Okay so they called that crane only nine hours after that is one.
SJV: The money of MIA for example, 15 Billion. Anu ba naman yun to help the passengers. My parents were stuck in there for two days and you know the situation of my mom. I focused more my questioning in the protocols. I also questioned sa options na available for us. Now in Clark there is this runway na merong tinayong establishment or building doon sa second runaway ng clark. So, bakit? You know these things 'no. Ang pinakamasakit siguro 'yong narinig namin kahapon. Kung nabiktima ka, parang it is adding fuel to the fire. Parang ganito, we're calling them, we're asking them to submit ano ba talaga yung mga protocols na nandiyan. I asked this question na merong ba kayung nung pagsasanay. Pag something happened like this, at this hour, at this minute.
KD: Do they have?
SJV: Ay wala daw po.
KD: But don't they have their own team who are experts in that?
SJV: Well they were saying that they're ready but when we talked about protocols obviously wala po
KD: Okay! Another thing is the OWWA. You guys also pointed out that apparently OFWs, for example, they were so many that had their visas. Some lost their jobs. They were sleeping there for three days to four days. That you all pointed out that technically, the government should have been more proactive or what and given them what they need.
SJV: Actually, we'd like to commed si Admin. Hans Cacdac he stepped up and explained to us yesterday what OWWA did and doon sa batas ni Sen. Angara na kaibigan natin mayroong mga financial assitance and this instance should be read by OWWA noh. Kasi it is all unfortunate na with this mishap a lot of our OFWs were stuck. But yung pagpunta mo doon and ieexplain mo sa iyong employer mo ngayon na you didn't make it that particular day, two-three days yung delay, etc., baka bawasan yung sweldo nila. May mga ganun. So yun yung mga pina monitor namin sa OWWA. We asked him to do a report and yung anu pa yung matutulong ng OWWA, anu yung ginagawa nila.
KD: Okay. So was there accountable? In other words, in yesterday's hearing, my last question, did they do their job well?
SJV: I would say it is disappointing and I dont think they did their job because I asked again, if it happens, will it take another 36 hours for you to get rid of this plane.
KD: Plane, or to move a plane
SJV: The answer is in a blank, parang they couldn't even agree they would be able to do better.
KD: Should Eddie Monreal resign? They were calls for him to resign.
SJV: I am not going to call for his resignation but I think the appointing authority should also look into it, parang hindi na maganda na every now and then we call for resignation. I think there should be a mechanism in the executive branch of the government if any dignitary would not be performing his or
- ON TRAIN 2 -
SJV: Well, first of all, I think Karen, we need to wait a little longer for TRAIN 1 to be implemeted...
KD: Oo, parang you mean, take full effect?
SJV: Full effect yes, and I think that there are some miscalculation on the part of our economic managers when you talk about the inflation rate. Kasi yung anticipated inflation obviously right now...
KD: Sumobra, they said 2-4%.
SJV: Now it is 5.2. One of the highest, so, in order for us to address this issue hindi naman kaagad dapat TRAIN 2 kagad yung ipasok. One of which is of course, I support yung rice tarrification, Another thing, why not lower our VAT from 12% to 10%
KD: Okay! That is a bit... Let's discuss that
SJV: It is a bit radical
KD: Yeah yeah it is radical but I remember Senate President Tito Sotto, at one point, said that also before, he hinted that lowering the VAT from 12 to 10% was a good idea.
SJV: It is a lot better, for me, than suspending the TRAIN 1. Because in doing so, itong TRAIN 2, hindi naman masyado maapektuhan si Juan Dela Cruz, especially our poor...
KD: Kasi ang TRAIN 2 is for corporations but we will discuss that later
SJV: Yes, and it is not even a guarantee that if you lower the coorporate income tax, babaha yung mga negosyante or negosyo dito sa ating bansa. Because if that is your rationale, then all countries. I mean Asian countries or all countries in the world will do that.
KD: But they are low... they are much lower than ours
SJV: Defintely, there is no question about it Karen. We are one of the highest but it doesn't necessarily mean that if you lower it. Babaha ng negosyo.
KD: What you are saying it is not the reason.
SJV: Can we pinpoint, sino ba talaga matatanggalan ng incentive. Because if you are really taking away the incentives from booming industries for example...
KD: Is it clear in TRAIN 2 why you have some industries they fear that they may need to fire people if they lose their incentives?
SJV: Well, a lot of companies are skeptical about it, because yun nga, it is not clear sino ba, lahat ba? There is somehow a backtracking and now they are saying that there are particular industries or yung PEZAs yung na enjoy na nila for a long time magkaroon ng sunset provision. Siguro ako I would agree with that. Pero again, yung shotgun approach pagka tinaggal mo yung incetives nila at hindi na sila naging competitive sa market, then ang next na step niyan is to fire.
KD: let go
SJV: let go of their employees. How do you do that? Sa akin, yung lowering of VAT mas talagang tataaman yung mga maliliit nating mga kababayan, yung mga poor families, Filipino families na talagang in anything na gagawin nila, mayroon silang mababawasan ng gastos.
KD: Okay, kasi sa TRAIN 1 the second trench of the excise tax on fuel will come out in January 2019, at ang pananaw mo Senator Joel kasi under the law 'di ba it is automatic 80 dollars per barrel then it is suspended, but I think we are not even hitting 70 per barrel at this point?
SJV: But the agreement during the committee hearings, yung inflation we will still believe na nababantayan pa rin naman yan. Because we know for a fact, when you have government money spending with the build build build program talagang yung inflation aakyat di ba. So talagang kailangan mong i mitigate yan. Kailangan mong bantayan yan. And para sa akin of course yung rice tariffication importante lang mabantayan natin.
- ON THE NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY ISSUE -
KD: Okay, so the NFA do you feel that the President has not acted, what is your point of view? Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian wants the NFA abolished, Sen. Villar said at one point with the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Act, it could be irrelevant. What is your point of view with the NFA? Should we retain? Or should we just change the head?
SJV: First of all I just want to say that it is good that we are talking about this. It is good enough that we are entertaining the idea of aboloshing a particular agency of the government not performing well. If they cannot really do their job then we just have to replace the leaders. If you think that the NFA is still an agency that we need, then we should go for it. But right now it is very clear that they are not doing their job.
KD: Alright, Jason Aquino, have you, I am curious, there are senators who have called for his resignation at one point.
SJV: I am not a fan, Karen, of calling for resignation etc. I think, again, the administration, the executive branch of the government, should look into it. I am sure there are mechanisms in place to find out if a public servant or an appointed officer in the government is doing his or her job.
KD: I know you are not fond of it, but how would you rate the performance of Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol.
SJV: With the statements he made last night, I think it is terrible.
KD: Okay. Which parts? Because Senator Villar was quite strong yesterday.
SJV: About the smuggling, na kaya nagkaroon ng shortage because they address the smuggling. Come on. That is horrible.
KD: Hindi ang sinabi niya na in Zamboanga kaya nagka shortage kasi matagal na that they buy smuggled rice. Kaya he wants to legalize smuggling rice
SJV: Yes. I dont know if that is his intention, Ma'am. To legalize smuggling.
KD: He said to tarrify...
SJV: Yung tariffs, but to legalize smuggling, that's...
KD: Those were his exact words on this show. Maybe legalize, not to allow smuggling but gawin mo na lang legal... lagyan mo ng tariff
SJV: Lagyan mo ng taripa. exactly. Yun nga yung naging message sa ating lahat 'no, which is for me is terrible. I am sure he doesnt mean it.
KD: But then do you agree that a rice center should be put up in Tawi-tawi at yun na lang ang maniningil ng tariff?
SJV: I dont think so. You have the national government. Again, I will also admit that I am not an expert of this particular issue, but I just, but the statements made by our DA secretary.
KD: But you were clear already that you are dissappointed with the NFA's performance
SJV: Oh yes!
SJV: Who is happy with their performance? I could hardly find one in the Senate for instance
KD: Okay po moving on with another topic, kasi you are not the chairman of that committee. I mean you did admit that is Sen. Villar committee kasi Agri and Food.
SJV: And she is doing a good job
- ON SOGIE BILL -
KD: You are popular on social media today, let us give this time. Because you are being bashed for the SOGIE Bill. We tell our viewers that the SOGIE Bill is the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression Bill so to speak. It is an anti discrimanation bill for the LGBTIQ community. There is a misconception or a perception that you are the one delaying the passage of the bill in the Senate because it has already been passed in the House. Okay Senator go ahead.
SJV: First of all, I'd like to put on record that I am very close to a lot of personalities in the LGBT community, super close. like really close. and I love the LGBT community with the love of the Lord and God knows in my heart I am definetly for anti-discrimination measure.
KD: You are for the SOGIE
SJV: I am an author, karen.
KD: Of the SOGIE Bill
SJV: It is just that at the end of the day we have to come up with a concrete measure that would address anti-discrimination
KD: Okay, I want you to be specific, what are your concerns with this SOGIE Bill? This is the one, the version of Sen. Risa Hontiveros
SJV: For example, Sec 3. A, B, C, when you talk about discriminatory acts. It is very hard to understand that the principal author of the measure would want us to legislate based on one's perception, in one's feelings. Kasi yung...
KD: Be specific, what does it say? This section...
SJV: Kasi in letter A, for instance, yung kailan yung acts of discrimination kapag ikaw ay ni-deny for instance ng isang establishment or isang institution based on your sexual orientation and gender identification. You will be criminalized.
KD: Okay tanong ko, what happened to Kaladkaren, have you seen that, papasok siya ng bar with her two transgender friends. she was at the bar at the night before at sinabi ng guard na bawal kang pumasok. Bawal ang bakla dito. What is that?
SJV: That is discrimination for me. Easily. That is discrimantion.
KD: So you support that.
SJV: Karen, I grew up in the University of Sto. Tomas high school and college. I experienced the same thing.
KD: Isn't part of the bill kapag dineny ka ng entry
SJV: For example, I was in UST and I was forced to take religion classes, I was forced to go to mass every month.
KD: You are not Catholic but you were staying at a Catholic school.
SJV: i grew up as a Born Again Christian and I went to a Catholic School
KD: So what you did?
SJV: So I go to religion classes, I attend masses.
KD: What you mean is you followed?
SJV: Yes I followed, I respect..
KD: You respect the school...
SJV: I think ang kaibihan is if I am being forced to renounce my faith. I did also experienced the same thing. Yung discrmination. I'm being called by one of my professors dun sa sa High School Mr. Fundamentalist, Mr. Born Again, they make fun of me. i think that is discrimination..
KD: This isn’t a proposal pushing for same sex marriage. Am I right?
SJV: It shouldn’t be. The author of the measure already admitted that it is not, not even a prelude to same sex marriage. So if it is really an anti-discrimination measure, we should work on it.
KD: In social media, you are lumped with Senate President Tito Sotto, Senator Manny Pacquiao who are known conservatives. You understand? But it seems now that you are sharing it.
SJV: It’s not just the three of us, Karen. There are so many senators out there. Believe me, they are not as vocal as the three of us. Because of the issues that we are confronting is that somehow now it appears that we are trying to legislate based on feelings. For example, if I feel like a woman today, I can go to the women’s bathroom. What would prevent the Congress from passing a measure na anti-discrimination na based on age naman, for instance. Na ang sasabihin naman for example, yung bata 15 years old nagda-drive ng sasakyan tapos ang sasabihin niya ‘E I feel like I’m 22 years old. I’m 15 years old but I feel like I’m 22 years old.’
KD: But that’s taking it too far.
SJV: Exactly. That is if you do it. That is if you legislate a law based on how you feel.
KD: But this is why I have to correct you about the LGBT community. It’s not on how they feel, it’s what they are identified with.
SJV: I respect that. I wanted to protect that preference on how you wanted to be identified. That’s why we have to come up with mechanisms to make sure that it will not be abused. For instance, there’s a group of people laughing and you feel na ikaw yung pinagtatawanan based on your identification. What if di naman ikaw (yung pinagtatawanan)? And you filed charges against these people?
KD: But how would you prove it in court naman?
SJV: How? How?
KD: I want kasi what’s in the bill. I’ll give you an example. You are a private corporation and you have all types of employees. Someone comes in who identifies herself as a transgender. The boss says, ‘You know what? I respect your gender identification but we are an investment firm. You need to wear pants.’ That’s more concrete. That’s very real ah. Let’s discuss that. Sabi niya, ‘we respect your preference but you cannot cross-dress but then sabi ng LGBT community, ‘Cross-dressing for us is how we are identified.’ Paano yun?
SJV: I would support the company because that’s the company culture e.
KD: That you have to dress like a man?
SJV: If it’s a uniform then you have to dress…
KD: Hindi, walang uniform. Civilian.
SJV: But Karen the example is like the student manual of some universities. It’s the same thing. If you cannot submit to the culture and the policy, beliefs of this religious organization…you have to respect it.
KD: That’s why I took out the religious side. This is a company. Isn’t that discrimination? Because I can’t Imagine telling someone ‘You know, dress like me. Because I think the way I dress is the right thing.’
SJV: Paano if it’s a company policy? It is a company policy that they don’t allow cross-dressing. So it is your choice if you want to apply for this company or not.
KD: You don’t see that as discrimination?
SJV: I don’t see it because there’s a company policy e. If there’s a company policy, it is a different story when all of a sudden company policy changes because there’s someone applying here for a job.
KD: Who’s to say that a man cannot wear a skit? That’s the question, e.
SJV: That’s a company policy e. If there’s none…
KD: But a woman can wear pants. I can dress like a man. I don’t think my boss can stop me.
SJV: If it has nothing to do with your work. For instance, if you’re going to a crane for instance and you wanted to…
KD: Hindi yan yun e. Ang issue ng discrimination is something like that. You’re in an office and you…
SJV: I already answered, Karen. If it is a company policy, you have to submit. It has nothing to do with your competence. It has nothing to do with the job being asked of you. It is a company policy and how you dress.
KD: And you don’t feel that discriminates their right to express themselves?
SJV: Yes. Because that is a company policy e.
KD: Is Senator Risa willing to remove that?
SJV: I will raise it in the coming (deliberations).
KD: Because religious freedom is one thing. But talk about normal companies. I think that’s the bigger issues. Yung sabihan ka ng boss mo, you’re in a BPO…
SJV: If you talk about public sector for instance baka pwede pa e, but this is a private company, Karen. For example, you are a world-class designer of wedding gowns. Ang talagang magwwear lang nito ay yung body of a woman and then there comes a guy who wanted to wear it. May kontrata ka na gawan siya ng tarje de boda. And you declined because yun nga ang design mo e. Will you be criminalized for not selling the dress? Yes. How would you protect these designers?
KD: This is quite interesting because there’s a big range.
SJV: That’s what we want to address. Again, I am for anti-discrimination measures. We love the LGBT community. I have a lot of friends who are LGBT personalities and I hope and pray that we’ll be able to come up with measure that will really address anti-discrimination practices.
KD: Ok. On that note, Senator Joel Villanueva, What a pleasure to have you. You were very passionate about the SOGIE.
SJV: Everything, everything. Thank you.