Manila Bulletin

Gov’t eyes 13th-month-pay sub­sidy for MSE work­ers

- By AR­GYLL CYRUS B. GE­DUCOS Business · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Philippines · Harry Roque · Silvestre Bello III · United States Department of Labor · Panama · Philippines Department of Finance · Saudi Arabia · Nigeria · Namibia · DZBB · Philippine Statistics Authority

Mala­cañang said it will look into the pos­si­bil­ity of sub­si­diz­ing the 13thmonth pay of em­ploy­ees of mi­cro and small en­ter­prises (MSEs) as some com­pa­nies con­tinue to strug­gle due to the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque made the state­ment af­ter La­bor and Em­ploy­ment Sec­re­tary Sil­vestre Bello III said Fri­day that the Depart­ment of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment (DOLE) may need up to ₱13.7 bil­lion to sub­si­dize the 13th-month pay of MSE work­ers.

In an in­ter­view with Su­per Radyo DZBB, Roque said that they will talk to the De­part­ments of Bud­get and Man­age­ment (DBM) and Fi­nance (DOF) to see if the gov­ern­ment will be able to shoul­der the MSE work­ers' ben­e­fit.

"Aalamin ko po muna, hindi pa ako makaka-com­mit hang­gang hindi ko pa nakakausap ang pare­hong DBM at Depart­ment of Fi­nance (I will find out first. I can­not com­mit un­less I have talked with both the DBM and DOF)," he said Satur­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Roque, Pres­i­dent Duterte was ask­ing when work­ers can re­ceive their 13th-month pay dur­ing their first full Cabi­net meet­ing dur­ing the pan­demic last Mon­day.

He added that Mala­cañang un­der­stands the plight of MSEs.

"Sin­abi na­man ni Pres­i­dente ito noong hul­ing Cabi­net meet­ing, ang gusto niya mala­man ay kailan makakarat­ing sa taum­bayan ‘yung 13thmonth pay (The Pres­i­dent wanted to know dur­ing our last Cabi­net meet­ing when the peo­ple can get their 13thmonth pay)," Roque said.

"Pero dahil nga po sa kondisyon ng ekonomiya, nai­intindi­han na­man natin na ‘yung mga small at mi­cro ay baka mahi­ra­pan dahil ta­la­gang na­pakata­gal nat­ing nag-lock­down... 'Yan po ay aalamin natin (But be­cause of the econ­omy, we un­der­stand that the small and mi­cro busi­nesses may find it hard to give the 13th-month pay be­cause we've been in lock­down for so long... We'll

see)," he added.

Bello said Fri­day that there are 1.5 mil­lion work­ers af­fected by the COVID-19 pan­demic while data from the Philip­pine Statis­tics Au­thor­ity (PSA) shows that about 5.1 mil­lion work­ers were af­fected.

Duterte has yet to ap­prove the sub­sidy for MSE work­ers. How­ever, if this pushes through, Bello said that medium en­ter­prises will not likely qual­ify for the cash aid.

Bello had floated the idea of ex­empt­ing or de­fer­ring the pay­ment of 13th-month pay for "dis­tressed" busi­nesses but Mala­cañang said the giv­ing of this ben­e­fit can­not be de­ferred as it is man­dated by law.

Last Fri­day, DOLE re­leased its guide­lines on the pay­ment of the 13th-month pay, say­ing it will not ac­cept any re­quest for ex­emp­tion or de­fer­ment. It added that em­ploy­ers should give work­ers their 13th-month pay by Dec. 24 this year.

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