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Roque sorry for âone-year vacationâ remark
At a virtual presser on Tuesday, Roque was asked if President Duterte would not take back his decision to withdraw his declaration to categorize All Souls’ Day, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as special non-working holidays.
Presidential Photo/Yancy Lim

Roque sorry for ‘one-year vacation’ remark

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — After being bashed for saying that people have been vacationing for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. yesterday apologized for “the misunderstanding” over his remark.

At a virtual presser on Tuesday, Roque was asked if President Duterte would not take back his decision to withdraw his declaration to categorize All Souls’ Day, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as special non-working holidays.

The spokesman replied, “Filipinos have been on an extended vacation for a year now.”

“The context of this is, many people are actually unable to go to work because of the pandemic. That includes Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve,” Roque said as he parried criticisms that he was insensitive to the plight of those who were rendered jobless due to the pandemic.

“That is not really a vacation, but rather, a failure to earn a living. Now that we can work because we are reopening the economy, let us allow our fellow countrymen to earn and work,” he said.

“We have been on vacation for too long, we have been on vacation for almost a year because of the COVID-19. Perhaps now that the vaccine is here, allow us to recover lost the time,” he said.

Since All Souls’ Day, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are classified as special working days, workers will no longer get additional holiday pay equal to 30 percent of their daily basic wage.

Militant farmers yesterday said “Roque is not helpful as the mouthpiece of Malacañang.”

“He is the one who should leave his post and take a vacation,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairman Danilo Ramos said.

“It is highly insensitive for Roque to regard our sorry situation as a prolonged vacation. It is the government that needs to catch up on its work of inoculating the public against COVID-19. The daily COVID cases are steadily rising since last week with over 2,000 new cases daily.”

The group said Roque’s statement is “insulting and offensive to millions of Filipinos who lost their jobs and livelihood, to those who lost their family and loved ones to COVID-19, to the majority who are facing uncertainties as a result of the government’s failed response to the pandemic.”

“We reiterate to Harry Roque: There is no one taking a vacation in this country. All have been placed in a difficult situation because of the pandemic and this was aggravated by the government’s inaction to the plight of millions of workers,” Ramos said in Filipino. – Rhodina Villanueva

HARRY ROQUE
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