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Yolanda holiday pros, antis clash

ORMOC CITY, Philippines — The issue on whether the commemoration of Yolanda should be declared a "holiday" has polarized netizens hereabouts, especially with the late night (November 7) release of  Malacañang's declaring November 8 a "special non-working day" but only in Tacloban City.

The President's declaration, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, states that "for the people of the City of Tacloban to be given full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies," a special non-working day is declared over the city.

Fel Medroso Camay of Ormoc City, felt aggrieved that the special non-working day was only declared for Tacloban "as if they were the only ones victimized by Yolanda."

DJ Febe, a radio commentator and mother of two, however said on air she feels Ormoc has had "too many holidays already" and that it was already detrimental to her children's studies. To recall, a strong earthquake struck Ormoc three times this year which caused the lengthy period of classes suspension.

Alberta Perez, a job order worker of the Ormoc City government said she did not like holidays because "way trabaho, way sweldo." (No work, no pay).

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, through a text to his brother-in-law Councilor Vincent Rama, said he is not keen on declaring a suspension of work and classes in the city.

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"How many holidays do we want in a year aside from days without work or school during typhoon season?  Siguro kung gusto nato muasenso magtrabaho ta ug mag kugi. Kung mag trabaho, may madawat na sweldo, kung walay trabaho walay sweldo," the mayor also said in a Facebook post.

The mayor is currently in Washington, DC, USA to attend a Local Government Academy-initiated seminar on federalism.

Vice Mayor Leo Carmelo Locsin, who is now acting mayor, led city government employees in a short observance of November 8 commemoration, which started with a Mass at the City Hall, and ended with a two-minute noise barrage using the sirens of the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Ormoc Rescue ambulances, and drivers honking the horns of the city vehicles, in the same way as it was commemorated last year.

Meanwhile, Leyte Governor Dominic Petilla has issued an order suspending work in provincial offices for yesterday only.

Vice Governor Carlo Loreto, in a phone interview, said the governor, on the other hand, left to the discretion of the mayors to declare work suspension in their respective local government units.

"Some were innovative," Loreto said, like his home city of Baybay where officials, led by Mayor Carmen Cari, declared November 8 instead as Tree Planting Day, as a way of remembering the lessons of the Yolanda devastation. Loreto said the activity was a fitting reminder for people "to help mitigate climate change."

Other LGUs in Leyte that declared suspension of work and classes are Kananga, Albuera, and Isabel. Five towns in the island province of Biliran have also declared local holidays in their localities. 

Palompon Mayor Ramon Oñate, however, said he did not join the bandwagon because he believed there is no "sufficient basis," because the only basis for mayors to suspend work and classes is when there are typhoons and emergencies. (FREEMAN)

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