Ruminations on the Kasambahay Law
Picture a family of four in a modest townhouse in Quezon City. Both parents work from Monday to Saturday in private companies. Their teenage children are in high school. One all-around kasambahay, Rona, takes care of the household chores.
As practiced for some years already, Rona has every other Sunday of the month as her days off. One day off means an uninterrupted 24-hour furlough. She has been enjoying two of those every month. The family reserves the other two Sundays for their “bonding” trips out of town to visit kith and kin. Everyone is okay with that arrangement.
Then Republic Act No. 10361 comes into effect. It grants all kasambahay, among many other things, the right to demand four days-off every month. As workdays are nonnegotiable, Rona will now have all Sundays for herself. She will use them because they are not convertible into cash or anything else. The family will now have to wait for their turn on other holidays! But with car and house mortgages to pay, the parents work their butts off even on those holidays where they earn double their daily wages.
The authors of the law (JV Ejercito in the House of Representatives and Loren Legarda in the Senate) are pretty proud of their handiwork. It has given them bragging rights as “champions of the poor,” a sobriquet coming in handy for the elections in May. Bully for them as they can afford to have as many kasambahay as they care to have. Even if all their servants alternate in having their days-off every day, they and their fellow congressmen and senators who helped cobble the law the way it is will never run out of servants (do they really charge such expenses to their “pork barrel,” as Sen. Panfilo Lacson said a female senator so shamelessly does?)!
Be that as it may, what about the rights of middle-class earners who can only afford one kasambahay? While in principle accepting the law as a “social justice measure” as far as it requires compulsory coverage under the Social Security System (already required by a previous law), Pag-Ibig and PhilHealth, they feel the authors of the law went overboard in other areas of concern. The entire law should have been finessed more thoroughly for its impact on social and domestic relations: Sobrang OA! For them, and for a great majority of people who are also struggling to make both ends meet, that particular provision of the law was manifestly ill-conceived. It sucks egregiously!
And come to think of it, it is sickening to think that up to this moment, none of those who pushed for this legislation has figured out a way to set up a one-stop shop for SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig registrations and contributions payments. Apparently, they have no qualms imposing upon all employers of kasambahay the responsibility of lining up in three different offices situated in different places—as if their work schedules are not hectic enough! It is common experience in this country that a taxpayer has to spend hours lining up to pay for so many things required by the government! Nagbabayad na nga, pinahihirapan pa! Adding insult to the injury, the law requires the employers of kasambahay earning less than P5,000 a month to shoulder all such additional payments (roughly P600 monthly in all). Well, disgruntled and harassed homeowners should know now whom to exact revenge against this coming election for screwing up their lives!
—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO,
Monsanto Law Office,
Loyola Heights, Quezon City,
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