House approves measures setting more non-working holidays

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More than 20 measures out 53 seeking the declaration of special non-working holidays in various parts of the country were approved over the objections of labor officials and employers.

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The 21 local bills were approved during a meeting recently organized by the Committee on the Revision of Laws at the House of Representatives.

The authors of the cited bills, representatives from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines attended the meeting.

The committee, led by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas of Pangasinan, said that the bills were already approved on third and final reading by the House during the 15th Congress and have complied with requirements.

The sponsors of the measures were required to provide supporting documents endorsing the special holiday observation from their constituency, including the business, academic, religious and socio-political sectors.

DOLE Undersecretary Jojie Aragon, however, said at the meeting held at the Batasan complex in Quezon City that declaring more non-working holidays to commemorate these events would lower the country’s productivity and erode competitiveness.

These additional nonworking holidays would also cut workers’ income especially for daily wage laborers and result in losses for employers.

Aragon said changing these days from non-working holidays to working holidays was a better option.

Federico Marquez Jr., ECOP corporate assistant secretary, echoed the DOLE’s sentiments.

Earlier, ECOP in a position paper said that the law already mandates a total of 18 national non-working days. Of these, 12 are paid regular holidays and three are unpaid special non-working holidays.

Another three Muslim holidays are observed in provinces and cities in Mindanao.

ECOP stressed that the number of working days in a year correlates to the level of national labor productivity, which in turn is a key factor in a country’s competitiveness.

The approved local bills call for special non-working holidays to be declared in particular areas to observe city, municipal, or provincial events such as foundation and charter days, feast days for patron saints, and commemoration days to honor heroes and heroines in their hometowns.

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