THE House of Representatives and the Senate on Monday reconvened their bicameral conference committee session on the expanded maternity leave bill following the discovery of improperly inserted tax exemption and appropriations provisions.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said some provisions were inserted during the bicameral conference committee, which the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) objected to.
“During the bicam, there was a provision inserted that added appropriations and tax exemptions which was objected to by the DoF and DBM. Those were not approved by both chambers in plenary,” he told reporters in a mobile phone message, without providing details.
In a statement, Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, who chairs the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, said the bicameral conference committee will take into consideration the comments of the DoF regarding the proposed measure.
“We will review the law once again so that we truly ensure its quality before we transmit it to the Executive branch,” she said.
The bill passed the bicameral conference committee in October with both the House and Senate panels agreeing to 105 days of leave for qualified workers. An additional 15 days of leave credit was also be given to solo parents.
“The Department of Finance wanted the bill to be clear that there will be no appropriation measure because it only provides the ceiling of SSS (Social Security System) for maternity benefit at P16,000 for women earning minimum wage and below,” Ms. Baraquel told reporters.
“The advocates have allowed us to consider the concerns the Department of Finance that is not really the heart and soul of the bill,” she added.
She expressed confidence that the bill will be signed into law by the end of the year. — Camille A. Aguinaldo