House panel approves bill declaring Chinese New Year a special non-working public holiday

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House committee on revision of laws has approved a measure seeking to declare Chinese New Year a special non-working public holiday in the country.

The House panel, chaired by Zambales 2nd district Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, passed House Bill (HB) No. 2778, principally authored by Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, sought the final passage of his measure, citing the “very significant presence” of the Chinese in the country.

People visit Lucky Chinatown on Feb. 1, 2019 in preparation for upcoming Chinese New Year on Feb. 5, 2019. (JUN RYAN ARAÑAS / MANILA BULLETIN) (JUN RYAN ARAÑAS / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Considering our long relations with the Chinese, many of whom have adopted the Philippines as their home, it is but just to help preserve some of their valued traditions. This bill seeks to preserve the Chinese tradition of celebrating their New Year by declaring it as non-working public holiday for observance among Chinese, Filipino-Chinese, and Filipinos, thus giving them honor and respect which is due them,” he said.

The House leader said the bill was originally introduced as HB 5881 during the 14th Congress where it was approved by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate.

It was re-filed and approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives and Senate during the 15th Congress, but due to lack of time, the bicameral conference committee for the bill was not constituted, Rodriguez said.

It was again re-filed during the 16th Congress and 17th Congress, he added.

HB 2778 seeks to "recognize the great contributions of the Chinese-Filipino in the Philippine society and their rich cultural traditions."

The measure provides that Chinese New Year be declared a special non-working public holiday in the whole country every year.

The bill tasks the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in consultation with the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. to promulgate the rules and regulations for the implementation of the proposed Act.