Palace on revised list of 2021 holidays: PH on vacation for a year, must recover ‘lost time’

Published March 2, 2021, 8:16 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Will President Duterte to change his mind about reclassifying three holidays as working days in the country?

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Nothing is etched in stone, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in the wake of calls from some groups to restore the holiday declaration. But for now, Roque said the nation has already been “on vacation” for a year and must now make up for “lost time.” 

The President recently issued a proclamation revising the list of holidays for 2021, particularly declaring All Soul’s Day (Nov. 2), Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), and Last Day of the Year (Dec. 31) as “special working” days to minimize work disruption and spur economic growth amid the pandemic. These three occasions were declared as special non-working days under an earlier proclamation.  

The country has remained under varying community quarantine level since the pandemic erupted last year.

“Alam ninyo po, iyan ay dahil po sa advice ng economic team. Napakatagal na po natin nakabakasyon. Halos isang taon na tayong nagbakasyon dahil sa COVID-19. Siguro naman po ngayong nandito na ang bakuna, hayaan naman nating maka-recover tayo for lost time (You know that is because of the advice of the economic team, we have been on vacation for too long. We have been on vacation for a year because of COVID-19. Maybe since we have the vaccines, let us try to recover for lost time),” he said during a televised press briefing Tuesday, March 2 when asked if the Palace will take back its latest proclamation.

“Pero tingnan po natin kung anong mangyayari. Nothing is etched in stone naman po. Tingnan natin baka naman dahil may bakuna na eh makabalik na tayo sa dati at baka hindi na natin kinakailangan maghabol pa (But let’s see what will happen. Noting is etched in stone. Let’s see perhaps since we have the vaccines, we can return to normal and we might not need to recover lost time),” he added.

Roque also urged people to have “faith” in the government’s economic team, that recommended the shift of three occasions to working days.

He noted that while others worked from home, many people lost their jobs during the pandemic and are eager to find employment.

The country fell into recession after the strict pandemic lockdown disrupted economic activities and left many people jobless. The economic managers have pushed for the further safe opening of the economy to spur growth and livelihood. 

The President initially rejected the recommendation the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to place the country under the most relaxed community quarantine for the month of March until the vaccination has started.

Last Sunday, Duterte said he may consider the further opening of the economy once the country secures at least 2 million doses of the anti-coronavirus vaccine.