Holiday economics now a law

Last updated 11:26pm (Mla time) 07/25/2007
MANILA, Philippines — Holiday economics, or the practice of shifting holiday observances, is now official government policy after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9492 into law.

The law, “an act rationalizing the celebration of holidays,” mandates that most holidays, except those with religious significance, will be shifted to the nearest Monday, said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita who announced the new law Wednesday.

Thus, next month, Ninoy Aquino Day, which celebrates the martyred anti-Marcos opposition leader, normally celebrated on August 21, a Tuesday, will shift to the preceding Monday, August 20.

National Heroes’ Day, celebrated on August 31, will be observed every last Monday of August, which this year falls on August 27.

“Therefore, we have two long weekends for the month of August,” said Ermita.

The “moveable days” are Bataan Day (April 9), Labor Day (1 May), Independence Day (June 12), National Heroes Day (August 31), Bonifacio Day (November 30) and Rizal Day (December 30).

Thus, if Independence Day, June 12, falls on a weekend, it will be celebrated on the following Monday. The same principle applies if June 12 falls on any day except Monday.

Exempted from holiday economics — that is, holidays that will be observed on the date on which they fall — are Christmas Day (December 25), New Year’s Eve (December 31), New Year’s Day (January 1), Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Eid’l Fitre (October 13) and All Saints Day (November 1).

“Good Friday, you cannot move it to Saturday. Christmas Day, December 25, how can you change the birthday of Jesus Christ? Christmas is Christmas,” said Ermita.

The President, who coined the term holiday economics, introduced the policy in 2001 to reduce disruption to business and production schedules, encourage domestic tourism and give employees long weekends.

Critics questioned the soundness of the policy, saying it would result in lower output and affect economic productivity. Others deplored it as presidential tinkering with history via executive fiat.

But National Statistical Coordination Board figures showed that if tourism businesses and related industries increased by 10 percent as a result of the long weekends, the economy would actually experience a 3.5-percent growth in gross domestic product.

Under the country’s labor laws, employers must pay 200 percent of the daily rate to those employees who report for work on legal holidays — January 1, April 9, May 1, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, June 12, National Heroes Day, Eid’l Fitre, November 30, Christmas Day and December 30.

On special holidays, employers must pay 30 percent over the regular rate. These are Ninoy Aquino Day, November 1, election day, November 30, Black Saturday and holidays that may be declared from time to time by the President. Michael Lim Ubac