The good senator is right – telecommuting is now the way to go.
But the raging transportation crisis has rendered it no longer an option but an urgent necessity.
And the arguments for it no longer beg to be publicly articulated.
The penitential, pestilential struggle of commuters to just get a ride dramatically captured on regular live television traffic updates speaks for itself.
But let us agree on one thing: Metro Manila’s holding capacity has been stretched to the limit – with millions endlessly moving around the metropolis 24/7.
There has to be a way to keep people at work but off the streets to ease the sheer volume of road traffic.
And as luck would have it, there is, indeed, one, and it is just waiting to be fully put into operation..
The transportation crisis hampering tens of thousands of commuters in the National Capital Region should prompt labor regulators and employers to utilize alternative solutions such as implementing telecommuting to maintain the productivity of workers, according to Sen. Joel Villanueva.
"We want to create more options for our employees to fulfill their duties while minimizing the need to go out of their homes and travel to their places of work," said Villanueva, who championed the passage of Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Law.
"Given our worsening traffic situation which is compounded by the partial shut down of the LRT 2, it's really high time for employers to consider the benefits of telecommuting."
"Hindi po tama na kalbaryo araw araw ang turing ng mga manggagawang bumabyahe para magtrabaho at buhayin ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay. Ipinapatupad na po ang Telecommuting Law at kasalukuyang nagsasagawa ng pag-aaral ang DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) sa mga trabahong maaaring ilagay sa isang telecommuting arrangement," Villanueva continued.
"Para po sa kapakanan ng ating mga manggagawa, hinihikayat natin ang DoLE na itaas pa ang kaalaman tungkol sa batas na ito."
The law encourages employers in the private sector to adopt telecommuting, a work arrangement that allows an employee to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and other relevant technology, he explained in a statement.
The law provides protection for workers who would decide (with agreement from their employers) to work from home, he added. Workers under a telecommuting arrangement will receive the same compensation and social protection benefits as other workers who report or work in offices.
He also urged employers with current telecommuting policies to align with existing standards of the labor department to ensure compliance with the law's implementing rules and regulations, which were promulgated in March this year.
System issues in the three main railways of Metro Manila are worsening the daily commute of workers in the country's capital.
Operations of the LRT-2 have been suspended since October 3 after a fire broke out on its Katipunan station damaging equipment and parts of the tracks.
Operator Light Rail Transit Authority resumed partial commercial operations on October 8, with trains running up to Cubao in Quezon City from Recto in Manila.
The line ferries around 220,000 passengers daily, according to the Light Rail Transit Authority.
The volume of traffic is expected to become heavier as the holiday season draws closer.