DEPUTY House Speaker Rep. Camille Villar of Las Piñas has proposed the establishment of a program that seeks to protect and provide health and financial assistance to waste workers throughout the country.
Under House Bill No. 9806, or Villar’s proposed Waste Workers’ Health and Welfare Act, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will be tasked to establish and administer the Waste Workers’ Health and Welfare program that is designed to safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of waste workers in the country.
Waste workers refer to persons engaged in the collection, transportation, processing, and disposal of solid waste, including garbage collectors, waste pickers, recyclers, and landfill and dumpsite workers
“They play a vital role in solid waste management… and contribute greatly in protecting the environment. Despite their importance, waste workers are some of the most under-appreciated and unprotected workers,” Villar said.
The lawmaker said the proposed Waste Workers’ Health and Welfare program shall provide waste workers with health coverage and benefits, occupational safety training, personal protective equipment, educational and financial assistance, and other benefits.
The program shall have a Registration and Monitoring System where the names of all waste workers in the country will be saved in a database for purposes of coverage under the program.
All beneficiaries shall be granted a package of healthcare benefits, including free annual check-ups, vaccinations, and hospitalization assistance, in partnership with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Regular training programs on methods, techniques, and the proper use of personal protective equipment to minimize the risks associated with waste handling shall also be made available to all beneficiaries, who will likewise be provided with suitable and adequate personal protective equipment free of charge by their employers or agencies.
Villar also proposed that waste workers and their dependents be given priority access to educational assistance programs and scholarship grants.
The DOLE, in collaboration with qualified financial institutions, shall also provide waste workers with low-interest loans for housing, emergency situations, or the establishment of sustainable livelihood businesses.
Funding for the implementation of the proposed Waste Workers’ Health and Welfare Act shall be included in the annual budget of the labor department, as well as grants, donation, contributions, and other forms of assistance.
“We should all work together to promote the health, safety, and welfare of waste workers throughout the country. Let us recognize the critical role that they play in maintaining the cleanliness and sustainability of our communities,” Villar said.