By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

ALBAY Rep. Jose Ma. S. Salceda has filed a bill that seeks to limit the number of holidays to increase company productivity.

The lawmaker said the country has 21 to 25 public holidays yearly.

House Bill 5032 “proposes to rationalize holidays by limiting regular holidays which are non-working days to seven,” according to the measure’s explanatory note.

“All other holidays shall be made special days, which are working days, but giving the employees an allowance of seven non-working days to commemorate their chosen special days based on their cultural, religious and personal preference,” it said.

There are 10 regular holidays under the law.

Under the bill, special days will be expanded to the Chinese New Year, EDSA Revolution anniversary, lglesia ni Kristo founding anniversary, and the Nativity of the Blessed virgin Mary.

Currently, special days are limited to All Saints’ Day and New Year’s Eve.

The bill requires local government units to only have one local holiday to commemorate its founding, heroes, or patron saint. This means there will only be two local holidays — one for the province and one for the town or city.

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. Senior Adviser John D. Forbes said he supports the bill. “We commend the initiative of Congressman Salceda in proposing a bold reform,” he said in a mobile-phone message.

“Employers for years have said the country has too many non-working holidays. The proposal will seek to have the Association of Southeast Asian Nations average of 15 holidays. This will improve competitiveness,” he added.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Inc. President Alegria Sibal-Limjoco said the bill would be costly for companies.

“Imagine the added cost if I’m in IT-BPO and my clients observe different holidays so I must maintain my operations even on holidays,” he said.

The impact of more holidays for small and medium enterprises is on how to ensure sufficient staff cover, he said.

“They will have less capability to bear additional costs of they need to operate on holidays,” Ms. Limjoco said in a mobile-phone message.