CHINESE NEW YEAR A 'WORKING HOLIDAY'

MANILA, January 15, 2004 (STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - As the Chinese-Filipino community ushers in the Year of the Monkey on Jan. 22, offices in the government and the private sector will remain open for business.

President Arroyo declared this year’s Chinese New Year celebration a "working holiday" all over the country.

Hosting a luncheon reception yesterday for editors and columnists of four Chinese-Filipino newspapers at Malacañang’s State Dining Hall, Mrs. Arroyo agreed with the proposal to declare Jan. 22, a Thursday, a working holiday.

This was in response to opposing requests made by the Chinese-Filipino community regarding the Chinese lunar new year celebrations in the country. Some groups want the occasion declared a national holiday.

But many Chinese-Filipino businessmen have complained in the past that they incur increased labor costs whenever Mrs. Arroyo, following her "holiday economics" principle, moves official holidays to either a Monday or a Friday to enable workers to enjoy longer weekends and possibly open opportunities for domestic tourism.

Under the country’s labor laws, employees who report to work on official holidays are entitled to holiday pay. A "working holiday," however, means no extra pay for workers.

The holiday for this year’s Chinese lunar year celebrations would thus only be "symbolic" as per agreement with the President by Chinese-Filipino media executives.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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