CAGAYAN de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday urged the national government to subsidize distressed employers to the tune of P13.7 billion to enable them to pay their workers their 13th-month salary or Christmas bonus.
“Our workers in the micro, small and medium enterprises have suffered so much since March 15 from lay offs or reduced working days up to now, and it will be cruel to deny Christmas to them by not giving their 13th month pay!” Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, emphasized.
His appeal, contained in House Resolution (HR) No. 1310, is specifically addressed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).
Rodriguez said employers in the micro, small and medium-scale business sector particularly need help.
He said data from the DoLE and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that between 1.5 million and 5.1 million SME workers have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus diseae-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Rodriguez said that In Cagayan de Oro, more than 16,000 workers have been laid off because of COVID-19.
He said Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello lll 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,” Rodriguez stressed.
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.
In the case of workers, Rodriguez said millions have lost their jobs, while those who remain employed find it very difficult to make both ends meet.
“2020 has been a very bad year for most Filipinos because of COVID-19 and its effects on their health, employment and income,” he added.