By Benjie R. Pangan
At Close Range
Sunday, February 26, 2012
THE top gun of the Department of Labor and Employment or DoLE, Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, must have several plausible reasons for suggesting that the holiday economics implemented first during the Arroyo administration may not be good for the economy, adding that holidays have both economic and sociological effects.
As it is now, the implementation of holiday economics involved moving the celebration of holidays to the nearest Friday or Monday resulting to long weekends, ostensibly to bolster domestic tourism.
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Per empirical data, implementing longer periods of time off from work is not enough “to boost the domestic tourism industry due to resultant high cost of travel and the low levels of disposable income”.
As I have written earlier, the main “victims” of longer weekends, time off and, yes, holiday economics, are the daily wage earners.
Baldoz cited the number of local holidays as 184: one is a regional holiday, 41 are provincial and 142 are city or municipal holidays. She thus recommended that a review of the implementation of holidays is “necessary to contribute to the Philippine development goal of inclusive growth, through decent and productive work”.
The Bureau of Working Conditions, or BWC, which is under the DoLE, has in fact had data that point to a situation that more special nonworking holidays create negative, rather than positive, welfare effects due to the principal of “no work, no pay”.
It categorically stated that: “For daily paid workers, the opportunity to produce goods of economic value and to earn wages is lost during a special non-working day”.
While labor costs increase in a day’s work, productivity is likewise increased, thus rendering it artificial and inefficient for employers.
In view of the current emergency situations, particularly in typhoon and calamity-hit cities and areas in the South, various schemes to alleviate the plight of workers there, have been and are being implemented by the national government, including the cash-for-work program to tide the affected workers and their families over the periods of emergency.
Instead of being doled out, the cash is hard earned by the workers and their beneficiaries.
To the ordinary citizen, the Philippines is another poor country trying to make ends meet. To an educated denizen, the news report that it contributes to the International Monetary Fund’s lending facility should probably amuse him, asking subconsciously where on earth could this poor country get funds to lend? But it is true, this, according to Diwa Guinigundo, deputy governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas who said the Philippines has entered into the expanded New Arrangements to Borrow, or NAB progrm of the IMF as a creditor country, and will make available some $500 million which the IMF can use to provide financial assistance to crisis-stricken countries like Greece, Ireland and those in the Eurozone.
Not all is lost, therefore, on the Philippine quest for financial stability as this recent news can attest to. The same report stated that the Philippines used to be a net borrower from the IMF until 2006, when it prepaid all its outstanding obligations, so much so that by year 2010, it even became a net creditor to the IMF.
Let the spirit of Edsa live forever, thus exhorted Angeles City Mayor Edgardo “Edpam” D. Pamintuan to his guests and well-wishers on his birthday gathering last February 23. Admitting there are destabilizers of the hard-earned democracy carved some 26 years ago, Mayor Ed lamented the wedge being driven between peace and orderliness in our society by those who wish only ill for our country and its inhabitants. He cited the ongoing Corona impeachment trial as one reason our cherished democracy is showing cracks leading to decay and eventual destruction, if the people who fought for it succumbs to despair and diminished courage, volunteerism and fortitude.
Edpam vividly proclaimed: “We have already won our democracy as early as 26 years ago, and we only need to strengthen it. We only need to make it work for our people. We did not risk life and limb 26 years ago, just to remove the ruling faction of the elite only to put to power another faction of the same elite”. Such fighting words by a stalwart in the quest for lasting democracy, Atty. Ed is, a persistent and consistent human rights lawyer and a compassionate public servant.
A swipe at the ruling administration and its cabal of influence peddlers and power brokers, perhaps? Nothing much has changed I surmise, even with the promise of the current dispensation to drastically change our way of living with the implementation of so-called house cleaning chores, stamped with PNoy’s choices. Have we in fact backslid or are we really backsliding, instead of improving? If this were so, what did we gain from the sacrifices we expended at Edsa? Do we need another Edsa to demonstrate our bitterness and disenchantment on failed promises?
Mayor Ed said it so succinctly in his remarks: Edsa was a great dream whose realization we had in our hands. We should have held it with care. We should have nurtured it… Yes, we could have nurtured it. But we are choking the life out of it.
Indeed, there must be a beautiful life after Edsa, or because of it. The choice or option is in our own discretion. Whether or not we fail democracy, it is our call. Fail not, I urge you then.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on February 27, 2012.