Senator Risa Hotiveros on Monday urged her colleagues to immediately pass a measure that will better protect workers in the “gig economy” after a delivery rider was found dead over the weekend while resting on his motorcycle in Pasig City.

Hontiveros made the call after Noel Escote was found dead during the weekend on his motorcycle, and reports said that no “external injury was noted”.The senator also asked Lalamove, Escote’s company, to help the latter’s family, since he died while performing his duty.

“Let his death be a wake-up call to our colleagues in the legislature to immediately act on pending bills that will make sure that the rights and welfare of the increasing number of gig economy workers are upheld,” she said in a statement.

Last month, Hontiveros filed Senate Bill No. 1373, or the Protektado ng Online Workers, Entrepreneurs, Riders at Raketera (POWERR) Act which seeks to protect the rights and welfare of gig economy workers that include delivery riders and freelancers, who are getting low pay with precarious conditions at work.

A gig economy is a labor market that relies heavily on temporary and part-time positions filled by independent contractors and freelancers rather than full-time permanent employees. In her proposal, Hontiveros said measures that could possibly protect gig economy workers include their enrolment in government social protection programs such as PhilHealth, SSS, and Pag-ibig, among others.

She also proposed that online platforms that secure services of independent contractors shall be held liable for injuries sustained by workers in the performance of their duty, particularly delivery riders.

Hontiveros said delivery riders are currently categorized as “independent contractors who are not qualified to receive social protections under our labor laws.” (PNA)