The Philippines will be observing its 117th annual Independence Day this June 12.
This day has been declared a regular holiday all over the country as stipulated in President Benigno Aquino III’s Proclamation 831, which was released last July. Since the said day falls on a Friday, this holiday will give Filipinos a rare three-day weekend.
According to the Department of Labor and Employment, employees are considered paid for this holiday whether they report for work or not regardless of their employment status. However, they have to be present or at least file a leave of absence on the work day immediately preceding the holiday.
On another note, employees who will report for work on June 12 because of the nature of their respective industries should receive twice or 200% of their basic hourly rate (commonly referred to as “double pay”).
The next regular holiday will be on August 31, when the country observes the National Heroes Day. Meanwhile, some websites are projecting that this year’s Eid’l Fitr, which is a regular holiday as well day, will fall sometime in mid-July.
The meaning of Independence Day at present
At this point, let’s talk about what the media loves to talk about when the Independence Day comes: What makes this historical milestone relevant to the present generation?
Two years ago, I argued that the independence the Philippines love to tout is rather imperfect. Our much-vaunted freedom of expression is under attack from legislators while the proliferation of political dynasties dramatically constrict our collective freedom of choice during elections.
This year, the emphasis of the Independence Day celebration will most likely focus on the aggressive attempts by China to “reclaim” various territories in West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea, depending on who’s describing it).
A major US publication recently described this area as “history’s next great war zone.” I’m afraid a lot of Filipinos are apathetic or at least not-well informed of this very grave situation. The national media needs to do a far better job covering this issue.
Are we prepared in case the situation worsens into a shooting war? What are the plans of those running for president next year about this issue?