Duterte urges early release of 13th month pay as coronavirus-related job losses loom

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called for big companies to pay employees their 13th month pay in advance to help them weather disruptions in their livelihood caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Those big enterprises here, maybe you can consider paying the 13th month pay or just pay them half of their salary if the employees lose their jobs as a way of showing your solidarity to Filipinos at this critical time,” Duterte said in a televised address.

“Kahit pro-rated lang. Tulong sa ating mga kababayan,” he added.

The president then appealed to property developers to suspend the collection of rental fees and to utility providers to give customers a reprieve.

A 13th month pay is a mandatory benefit provided to employees regardless of the nature of their employment.

Duterte’s plea to companies comes as hundreds are expected to lose their jobs with businesses remaining shut amid falling demand and as Metro Manila — the country’s center of business and commerce — closes its borders in a bid to contain the virus, which has infected 142 people in the country as of posting time. The president has since expanded the lockdown to include the whole island of Luzon.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has said his agency has P140 million on standby to provide “emergency employment” for those who would lose jobs. However, it is still undetermined when the funds are going to be released.

In the same televised briefing, Duterte ordered businesses to temporarily cease operations should the health crisis escalate further.

“Kung maari lang po, stay home,” he said. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral



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