Press Release
October 28, 2016

Villanueva releases first 100 days accomplishment report at JIL's 38th anniversary celebration

Senator Joel Villanueva has released his first 100 days accomplishment report during the 38th anniversary celebration of Jesus Is Lord (JIL) at Luneta Grandstand in Manila on Friday.

In his first 100 days since the opening of the first regular session of the 17th Congress, Villanueva has filed over 100 bills and resolutions focusing on fulfilling his vow to the Filipino people--to create more jobs, increase workers' take-home pay and provide quality education.

"Being chosen by 18,459,222 voters to represent them in the Senate is no easy task. By the time I was elected, I have already prepared myself to assume this huge responsibility to do my job well and fulfill my mandate to serve the people. I do not want to fail the Filipino people. I want to give them what they truly deserve and that is to ensure that they have decent jobs," Villanueva said.

Creating more jobs

Popularly known as "TESDAMAN", Senator Joel Villanueva has proven himself as a champion of labor rights and skills training through the programs he started in TESDA which generated over 9 million jobs. In his latest mandate to the people as a senator, he continues to do more as can be seen through his bills and other initiatives. He was also given the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, and the Committee on Youth.

Just a day after he took his oath as a newly-elected senator, Villanueva filed bills aimed at generating more jobs, addressing the job-skills mismatch and improving the tech-voc sector. These measures include the Enterprise-based training Act (SB 208), Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) Act (SB 211), and Revised Apprenticeship Program Act (SB 213).

In his first privilege speech, he acknowledged the extent of job-skills mismatch in the country and proposed solutions to address the problem which recent surveys cited as one of the causes of youth unemployment.

The situation prompted the senator to file Senate Resolution No. 129 directing the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development to review the state of job-skills mismatch in the country.

Among his recommendations to resolve the issue are: 1) partnering with industry associations; (2) strengthening our enterprise-based training; (3) expanding our technical vocational education and training; and (4) institutionalizing the Philippine Qualifications Framework or PQF.

"If our people have relevant skills: they will have more choices; they will be right for the job; the pursuit of happiness can be real for them. Sama-sama po tayo sa paglikha ng mga batas para tuldukan na ang job-skills mismatch sa bansa at palawakin ang oportunidad para sa mga manggagawang Pilipino," Villanueva emphasized in his speech.

This October, Villanueva reiterated his call to end "endo" in his second privilege speech wherein he emphasized the need for a balanced and more holistic legislation to address the plight of contractual workers.

"Sinabi po ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na kung may panukalang batas para mahinto ang ENDO, pipirmahan n'ya po ito kaagad. Kung gayon, kailangan lang po ay magkasundo ang lahat ng mga stakeholders sa lalong madaling panahon sa mga mekanismo para matigil ang pang-aabuso sa mga manggagawa, mapatigil ang ENDO, at sa kabilang banda, mapatatag ang ating mga negosyo at patuloy tayong makalikha ng trabaho," Villanueva said.

Increasing Workers' Take-Home Pay

In line with the public's clamor to increase wages which was cited as the most urgent concern based on the recent Pulse Asia survey, Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 1062 which restructures the income tax imposed on individuals.

The senator acknowledged the failure to adjust the personal income tax structure since 1997 which has pushed taxpayers into higher tax brackets thereby resulting to workers paying a larger portion of their incomes to the government.

His proposed bill is eyed to reduce the tax burden of workers and address our country's top marginal rates which is one of the highest in the ASEAN region.

"Our country should not be left behind our richer ASEAN neighbors. What we need is a taxpayer-friendly system that would give more purchasing power to our workers. If the passage of this bill will be certified as urgent, concerns on wages will be alleviated and our workers will receive a higher take home pay" Villanueva said.

End 'ENDO'

Villanueva has also taken a strong stance against "endo" or the 555 scheme. As the Chairman of the Committee on Labor, he initiated a hearing to discuss the prevalent and abusive labor practices in contractualization. It was attended by top government officials from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), labor groups, members of the academe, and the private sector.

Recognizing the existence of 600,000 job order personnels in the government and more than 400,000 contractual workers in the private sector, the senator believes that more stringent laws must be passed and strictly implemented to ensure a decent and humane labor condition for our workers.

Consequently, the senator filed bills aimed at protecting employees from both the public and private sector.

Among these measures are Security of Tenure Act (SB 1164) that would give permanent appointment to all government casual/contractual employees with three years of continuous service, and End ENDO Act (SB 1116) which proposes amendments to the Labor Code such as the prohibition of labor-only contracting, disallowance of unfair labor practice of the contracting employer, limiting of contractual services to highly specialized fields, and regularization of project and seasonal employees for the duration of the project or season.

On October 13, Villanueva concluded the inquiry on 'endo' after three successful hearings. He assured the stakeholders of a legislation that will promote a balance between the efficiency of employers and the equity of workers. The senator also cited his recommendations on the proposed law addressing 'endo' and ensuring security of tenure for workers.

Among the key features are: 1) the limiting of contractualization to specialized sectors; 2) ensuring that contractors have sufficient capital for the salaries and benefits of workers; 3) having transparent separation terms and affront payment of termination fees to employees; 4) ensuring that workers receive regular salaries and benefits, and uphold their right to organize; 5) simplification of employee classification to "regular" and "probationary"; and 6) the imposition of appropriate penalties to discourage bad practices of contractualization.

"Our workers are the lifeblood of our economy. They have been neglected for many years now. We have to ensure that we adopt a law that will regularize these workers and make certain that they will receive social benefits and protection. Our goal is to ensure that they receive what is due them" Villanueva said.

Making a stance on national issues

Villanueva's focus on creating more jobs, protecting workers' rights and providing quality education has not kept him from making a critical stance on important national issues.

Following the issuance of the President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order on Freedom of Information (FOI), the senator immediately urged the members of Congress to follow suit. He subsequently filed the FOI Act or An Act Promoting and Enforcing the Right of People to Information (SB 1014), a measure which he has long been pushing for ever since he was a Representative of CIBAC Partylist.

He also participated in a Senate hearing on emergency powers in which he urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to speed up its crafting of a traffic plan that will be the basis of the Chief Executive once he is given emergency powers to solve the tremendous traffic in Metro Manila. Along with this, he filed the Telecommuting Act (SB 1032) which proposes the possibility of work from home which may not only reduce traffic congestion but also promotes work-life balance and productivity.

Aside from these initiatives, Villanueva has also expressed his support on the government's war against illegal drugs during his participation in the hearing of Senate Committee on Justice on extrajudicial killings. However, the senator has also emphasized that the government's intensity on its drug war must be coupled with the same pursuit in probing unjustified killings and to look into more viable solutions to address the drug problem.

"I have long been supportive of the government's war on illegal drugs. However, we must recognize that there is no quick fix solution to our drug problem. Drug dependence is a disease fueled by poverty and lack of opportunities. Fixing our economy will contribute more to addressing the drug problem," Villanueva noted.

The senator has further recognized the role of youth in keeping up with the government's drive to curb the proliferation of illegal drugs. As such, Senator Villanueva filed the Youth Drug Abuse Resistance Education and Prevention Program (Y-DARE) Act which targets to educate the youth on the personal and social consequences of substance abuse and drug dependency.

Moreover, Villanueva has also been proactive in addressing the needs of his hometown in Bocaue, Bulacan. Recently, he led the turnover ceremony of dredging equipment that will mitigate the decades-long flood problem in the province.

Last September, Bulacan was hit by heavy rains which forced the evacuation of 1,559 individuals or 356 families from various towns in Bulacan. With the help of the said equipment, the dredging operation of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is believed to increase the carrying capacity and flood spill of the Bocaue River which serves as one of Bulacan's natural catch basins for floodwaters coming from central and northern Luzon's mountainous areas.

Up For More Action

Apart from measures seeking for the improvement of the labor sector, Villanueva has also filed a wide range of bills. Among these are: An Act Restructuring the Income Tax Imposed on Individuals (SB 1062), Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiave or the FOI of the mining sector (SB 1125), Pedestrian Safety Act (SB 1126), Youth Suicide Prevention Act (SB 1163), and No Garage, No Car Act (SB 1165).

Other labor-centered bills which the senator hopes to pass into law are the Parental Leave Act (SB 1064), Labor Empowerment Assistance Program (LEAP) Act (SB 1130), and Financial Literacy for Workers Act (SB 210).

"This is just the start. There will be more bills and resolutions to file and we are not going to stop until all Filipinos are spared from abusive labor schemes and given quality education . I am confident that with the cooperation of our fellow Filipinos, we would soon create a positive change in our country," Villanueva said.

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