SEN. Joel Villanueva, chief author of the telecommuting law, sees the “Work-from-Home” option as the key to unlock worsening daily traffic gridlocks in metropolitan areas.
“When we authored and sponsored the Telecommuting or the Work-from-Home Law in 2019, our intention was to address the worsening traffic situation, especially in the metropolitan areas, Villanueva said on Thursday.
The senator added, however, that “when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the whole world, we saw the full implementation of the law and how productivity was not halted because of the alternative working arrangements provided.”
In fact, Villanueva recalled that e-commerce and digital transactions grew by 20 percent from 2021 to 2022, “even while most people are still working from home.”
The senator noted, however, that “the pandemic may be over but our traffic situation has gotten more intolerable.”
Citing a 2018 Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) study, he noted that the Philippines lost P3.5 billion a day due to the heavy traffic in Metro Manila.
It recalled that in December 2022, in a project report for the Comprehensive Traffic Management Plan, Jica had noted that “transportation costs of road users, comprising vehicle operating cost and travel time cost, is now at P4.9 billion per day in Metro Manila, which will increase to P9.4 billion a day by 2027 if nothing is done.”
While inflation has slowed down to 4.7 percent in July 2023 from 5.4 percent in June 2023, the average inflation rate from January to July 2023 is still at 6.8 percent, Villanueva said, noting this “still puts financial constraints on our commuters, especially our minimum wage earners receiving a salary of P610 per day in the National Capital Region.”
Moreover, he said, the WFH Law was also instrumental for the IT-BPO sector wherein 23,000 new jobs were created in 2020 and 100,000 in 2021, with revenues increasing by around 12 percent in 2021, reaching a total of $28.8 billion. “We filed Senate Bill No. 135 which seeks to allow alternative work arrangements for companies registered with the Investment Promotion Agencies.”
Undoubtedly, said the senator, Work From Home and other alternative work setups are here to stay and will further improve productivity, ease traffic burden, improve work-life balance, reduce workers’ expenses and contribute to the overall health of the economy.