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Subsidize distressed employers, solon urges

Elmer Navarro Manuel



A lawmaker on Thursday urged concerned government agencies to subsidize distressed employers with an amount of P13.7 billion so they can still provide their workers with 13th-month pay or Christmas bonus.

In a statement, Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez is calling on the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to extend its assistance to employers in the micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSME) as they are the ones who particularly need help.

Rodriguez has filed House Resolution 1310, specifically addressed to the Labor department.

The lawmakers noted that data from DoLE and the Philippine Statistics Authority show that between 1.5 million and 5.1 million MSME workers have been affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

He also disclosed that in Cagayan de Oro City alone, more than 16,000 workers have been laid off due to the health crisis.

“2020 has been a very bad year for most Filipinos because of COVID-19 and its effects on their health, employment and income,” Rodriguez said. “Our workers in the micro, small and medium enterprises have suffered so much since 15 March from layoffs or reduced working days up to now, and it will be cruel to deny Christmas to them by not giving their 13th month pay.”

Rodriguez noted that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III’s estimates that P5 billion to P13.7 billion will be needed to subsidize distressed MSME employers to enable them to pay their workers their 13th-month pay and Christmas bonus.

“The government, specifically the DoLE, should come in to implement a subsidy program and provide funds for qualified and distressed employers, particularly micro, small and medium-scale enterprises,” Rodriguez said.

Presidential Decree 851 mandates employers from the private sector to pay their rank-and-file employees a 13th month pay not later than 24 December every year and under the decree the 13th month pay should be equivalent to 1/12 of an employee’s basic annual salary.