Biz leaders favor amended holidays

BUSINESS leaders in Cebu have welcomed the amended list of holidays in 2021 which declares Nov. 2, Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 as “special working days,” saying that this will spur economic activities.

The amended list, however, drew mixed reactions from employees.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu said the amended holidays will support the business sector in increasing productivity and in bringing down the costs of labor.

“Because of the pandemic, many businesses are hanging by the cliff, and by supporting the businesses, you increase survival rates, which means more job generation. This is the way to look at it: Reduced business mortality rate equals more livelihood opportunities,” he said.

Yu said the government’s goal is to reduce poverty, which can only be attained if there are increased livelihood opportunities. He said the move will also make the country attractive to foreign investments since many foreign investors complained that Filipinos have too many holidays.

Under the new Proclamation 1107, Nov. 2 (All Souls’ Day), Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve), and Dec. 31 (Last Day of the Year), which had long been special non-working holidays in the country, are now declared special working days.

“For the country to recover from the adverse economic impact of the Covid-19, there is a need to encourage economic productivity by, among others, minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead,” President Rodrigo Duterte said.

Filipino-Cebuano Business Club (FilCebu) chairman Rey Calooy told SunStar Cebu that the amended holidays would contribute greatly to higher productivity among Filipinos.

“We had a lot of days in 2020, during the lockdown, where we were paid while we were resting at home. We have to understand this. Its purpose is to increase productivity so our gross domestic product (GDP) can recover,” Calooy said.

The Philippines’ GDP plunged 9.5 percent in 2020 due to lockdown-induced disruptions, typhoons, African swine fever and the weak global sentiment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peak days

Calooy said the dates chosen by Duterte are peak days in business that can fuel further the recovery of ailing micro, small and medium businesses.

“Those are the only times that we can generate sales because those are busy days where consumers are sure to spend,” he said.

The Philippines is one of the countries in the world with more holidays compared to some.

Employees’ reactions

Benedict (who asked for anonymity), a healthcare worker, said he was okay with it.

Jennifer, a finance officer, however, decried the amendment, saying that the new special working days, especially the 24th and the 31st, should remain as non-working holidays.

“Those days have been traditionally spent with family and loved ones. In this time of Covid-19, I think time spent with family is always a good idea. There are other non-working holidays that I can think of that should be switched to working holidays instead,” she told SunStar Cebu.


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