Saying too many holidays can be counter-productive and can increase business costs, Albay Representative Joey Salceda has filed a bill to limit the number of non-working days in the country.
"Public holidays allow the commemoration of special events and provide the people with some rest. Holidays, however, also mean nonworking days, reduced productivity, and increased labor and business costs. For some workers, this can also mean 'no work, no pay,'" Salceda said in the explanatory note of his House Bill No. 5032.
The bill aims to "rationalize" holidays and special days in the country "to ensure productivity and promote competitiveness" despite the observance of these holidays and special days.
According to Salceda, the Philippines is one of the countries with the most number of public holidays in Southeast Asia, with 21 to 25 annually.
"While Congress has exercised some restraint in further increasing the many holidays in our country, particularly those that are nonworking, we need to do more to improve our holiday policy to expand our nation’s productivity and increase our competitiveness," he added.
Under the measure, the number of regular nonworking holidays will be limited to nine. All other holidays will be made special working days, but employees are given an allowance of seven nonworking days to choose which special days they will commemorate "based on based on their cultural, religious, and personal preference."
Employees have to agree with their employers on the special day they will choose as non-working.
For government employees, meanwhile, the seven special days declared as non-working will have to be made by the Office of the President.
Except when they require a specific date of commemoration, a holiday or a special day that falls on a Wednesday will be observed on the Monday of that week. If it falls on a Sunday, it will be observed on the Monday that follows.
In these cases, the President is required by the measure to issue a proclamation on the specific date of the holiday or special day's commemoration at least six months prior.
The following are classified as regular nonworking holidays under Salceda's bill:
- New Year's Day - January 1
- Good Friday - movable date
- Eidul Fitr - movable date
- Labor Day - Monday nearest to May 1
- Independence Day - June 12
- All Saint's Day - November 1
- Bonifacio Day - November 30
- Christmas Day - December 25
- Rizal Day - Monday nearest December 30
Meanwhile, the special working days as proposed by Salceda's bill are:
- Chinese New Year - movable date
- EDSA Revolution - Monday nearest February 25 anniversary
- Maundy Thursday - movable date
- Eidul Adha - movable date
- Araw ng Kagitingan - Monday nearest April 9
- Founding Anniversary of the Iglesia ni Cristo - July 28
- Ninoy Aquino Day - Monday nearest August 21
- National Heroes Day - Last Monday of August
- Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - December 8
- Christmas Eve - December 24
- Last Day of the Year - December 31
At the same time, the bill also allows each local government unit to celebrate only one local holidays by law or ordinance to observe its founding, heroes, or fiesta. With this, there will be only two local holidays, one for the province and one for the town or city.
"In sum, there will be nine regular nonworking holidays, two local nonworking holidays and seven special days that would be nonworking to be agreed upon by employees and employers for a total of 18 nonworking holidays and special days," Salceda said.
The Department of Labor and Employment is tasked to promulgate the rules and regulations to implement the provisions of the measure within 90 days from its effectivity. —LDF, GMA News