Palace defends Duterte order to reduce number of holidays for 2021
Robie de Guzman • March 3, 2021 • 500
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to cancel some traditional holidays for this year in a bid to spur the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under Proclamation No. 1107, Duterte moved to declare traditional holidays of Nov. 2, Dec. 24, and Dec. 31 as special working days “to encourage economic productivity by minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead.”
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the order was based on the recommendation of the administration’s economic managers to support economic recovery.
“Napakatagal na po natin nakabakasyon. Halos isang taon na tayong nagbakasyon dahil sa COVID-19,” Roque said in a virtual briefing.
“Siguro naman po ngayong nandito na ang bakuna, hayaan naman nating maka-recover tayo for lost time,” he added.
The imposition of lengthy lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 has led the Philippine economy to a slump. The pandemic has also affected millions of workers and businesses.
Opposition lawmakers, however, called on Malacañang to reconsider its decision, saying the reclassification of traditional holidays into special working days will affect workers’ pay as they will no longer get additional holiday pay equal to 30 percent of their basic daily wage.
In response to their calls, Roque said that “nothing is etched in stone” and that there is still a possibility that this will change with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
“Pero tingnan po natin kung anong mangyayari, nothing is etched in stone naman po. Tingnan natin baka naman dahil may bakuna na eh makabalik na tayo sa dati at baka hindi na natin kinakailangan maghabol pa ‘no,” he said.
The Philippines on Monday started its COVID-19 immunization program following receipt of 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, courtesy of the Chinese government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will not be attending a summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 24, Malacañang said Thursday.
“Ang president po, hindi personally mag-a-attend. But I’m sure that our Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be there,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a media briefing.
Roque did not say why Duterte would be skipping the meeting but the DFA said in a statement that the president “decided to remain in the country to attend to pressing domestic concerns in light of the surge of COVID-19 cases.”
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has designated Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. as his Special Envoy to the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting to be held on 24 April 2021 at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia,” the DFA said.
“The Philippines strongly supported the convening of the Meeting even without the full attendance of all ASEAN Leaders,” it added.
The department said the special leaders’ meeting will “address urgent matters in the region, including recovery efforts, the situation in Myanmar, ASEAN community building efforts, external relations, and regional and international issues.”
“The President, through Secretary Locsin, will convey the Philippines’ commitment to ASEAN’s collective efforts in addressing threats and challenges to peace and stability in the region,” the DFA said.
“Secretary Locsin will also express the Philippines’ strong support to the initiative of Brunei Darussalam and the Secretary-General of ASEAN to use their good offices, in accordance with the ASEAN Charter, to visit Myanmar and spearhead ASEAN’s response to the crisis in Myanmar,” it added.
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is not comfortable with relaxing quarantine and testing protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
During Wednesday’s (April 21) public address, the President noted that less stringent measures could compromise the entire country as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
“I’m not quite comfortable with the relaxation that’s being brought now,” he said.
“I am not ready for a compromise lalo na ngayon. ‘Yung ibang sakit siguro, pwede pa – iyong mga rabies. Pero ito, talagang … as I have said, dapo rito, dapo roon,” he added.
The meeting which included health experts was in response to the appeal of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for an immediate swab test on OFWs upon arrival and a shortening of the quarantine period or their stay in hotels or isolation facilities.
“Kaya nga po kami nakikiusap sana, na kung maaari, ay we go back to the original protocol noon na pagdating ng ating OFWs, swab kaagad sila,” Bello said.
The medical experts recommended a review of the testing protocol but insisted that the implementation of strict quarantine measures is still best to be strictly enforced at this time.
“The [Technical Advisory Group] had some preliminary discussions po regarding the current issue, and we were thinking that based on the data that we have right now, it’s a better option to review the testing protocol,” said DOH-TAG member Dr. Anna Ong-Lim.
“We recommend that it be done at a later time, but the critical intervention should really be that quarantine should be strictly enforced,” she concluded.
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the grant of one-time financial aid of P20,000 to qualified pensioners under the employees’ compensation (EC) program.
Under Administrative Order (AO) No. 39, which was signed on Monday, Duterte authorized the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) to grant the cash aid to EC pensioners for permanent partial disability, permanent total disability, and survivorship, in the private and public sectors, “subject to the availability of funds and pertinent laws, rules and regulations.”
Duterte directed the ECC, Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to set aside and release appropriate funding to cover the financial assistance from the Social Insurance Fund under the EC Program.
The ECC, in coordination with the SSS and GSIS, will issue the implementing rules and regulations necessary for the effective implementation of the order.
In signing the AO, Duterte recognized that the “adverse effects of the pandemic on the economy, supplementary health necessities for the battle against the virus, and restrictions imposed on our mobility and social interaction, have increased the financial and health burdens experienced by the EC pensioners.
The one-time cash aid will be granted to around 31,000 pensioners of the SSS and GSIS.
Duterte said AO 39 will take effect following its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.
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