A House leader is prodding government to subsidize financially-distressed companies so they may still give their employees their 13th-month salary or Christmas bonus.
Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez spelled out this appeal in House Resolution (HR) No.1310, which specifically calls on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to implement a P13.7-billion subsidy program.
“Our workers in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have suffered so much since March 15 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,” said Rodriguez, chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
March 15 was when the hard lock down began in different areas in the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rodriguez said data from the DOLE and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that between 1.5 million and 5.1 million MSME workers have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that In Cagayan de Oro, more than 16,000 workers have been laid off because of the effects of COVID-19.
He said DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello lll had estimated that P5 billion to P13.7 billion would be needed to subsidize distressed MSME employers so they could pay their personnel their 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,” stressed the Mindanao solon.
He pointed out that the due to economic difficulties caused by the pandemic, many employers “are suffering losses and do not have the funds to pay the mandatory 13th-month pay even if they are willing to do so.”
“In fact, the pandemic has forced scores of businesses to close shop, some temporarily, others permanently,” he said.
He said in the case of workers, millions have lost their jobs, while those who remain employed find it very difficult to make both ends meet.
Rodriguez summed it up by saying that 2020 “has been a very bad year for most Filipinos because of COVID-19 and its effects on their health, employment and income.”