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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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Committee ok's
bid for INC holiday

House Bill 3649 filed by Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia that seeks to declare July 27, 2014 a special national Non-Working holiday to mark the centennial of the founding of the Iglesia ni Cristo, was approved by the Congressional Committee on Revision of Laws yesterday, a press release from his office said.

Leonardia's bill, that was backed by the Department of Labor and Employment, was singled out among six similar measures because it was limited only to this year's celebration, and does not seek to create an annual holiday.

In his sponsorship speech yesterday, Leonardia argued that, considering that there are sectors who frown on too many holidays, limiting the declaration to only this year, improves its chances of being approved quickly, in time for INC members and the rest of the country to enjoy this important date.

During the hearing, DOLE assistant secretary Joji Aragon told the committee that holidays are a disincentive to business. “This is why we support Leonardia's measure”, she said, “because it is time-bound and, on a cost-benefit analysis, it is acceptable.”

The rest of the proposals, that wanted to make July 27 an annual holiday, were sent back to the technical working group.

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed a joint resolution seeking the declaration of July 27, 2014 as a holiday, virtually ensuring the passage of HB 3649, which was filed last December, into law. The resolution will be fowarded to the Senate for action.

With the declaration, Leonardia said, “We hope to properly honor the INC and its founder, Ka Felix Manalo, and celebrate their contributions, not just to religious diversity in our country, but also to the enrichment of our culture and history.”

He also pointed out that, aside from its religious and cultural significance, the INC centennial also has tremendous tourism potentials. A centennial is 100 years in the making, and the entire country should celebrate this with the INC, he added.

This will also give an opportunity for INC members to join their grand centennial celebration that is expected to be held in Metro Manila, Leonardia said.

After filing the bill last December, Leonardia had been lobbying among his fellow congressmen to support it. He has also officially asked Senate President Franklin Drilon to file a counterpart version in the Senate, he said.*



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