Naga City

Is Jesse Robredo Day a non-working day or a holiday in Naga? It depends

Bea Cupin

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Is Jesse Robredo Day a non-working day or a holiday in Naga? It depends
August 18 is a working holiday through a law passed in 2014, so it’s up to Malacañang to declare a special (non-working) day in Naga City, where Robredo was mayor for many years

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time since 2016, August 18 is not a special non-working day in Naga City.

The day is special for Nagaueños – August 18 is when the plane Robredo was riding crashed off the shores of Masbate. The long-time Naga mayor was then local government secretary. Several days of search for the long-time Naga mayor followed, until divers eventually recovered his remains and that of his two companions – the pilot and co-pilot – from the sea.

Three years later, on Robredo’s third death anniversary, the late president Bengino Aquino II signed Republic Act (RA) 10669, declaring August 18 “Jesse Robredo Day,” a special working holiday.

But in 2023, citing RA 10669, the Office of the President under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. denied Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion’s request, a document from Malacañang showed.

Congressional, Presidential declarations

RA 10669 is concerned mostly about teaching Filipino learners about Robredo. Section 3 of the law states: “The Department of Education shall plan and implement activities for the ‘Jesse Robredo Day,’ and ensure that Jesse Robredo’s legacy of good governance and leadership is given emphasis to encourage students to continue the same for the good of the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

The department is currently headed by Vice President Sara Duterte. The incumbent vice president just happens to succeed former vice president Leni Robredo, the widow of the late Robredo.

So it’s a special working holiday. What now?

Since the law doesn’t declare August 18 a non-working special day or holiday, that means if Naga City wants the day to commemorate its former local chief executive, Malacañang must release a proclamation declaring the day a special (non-working) day. Why? Only the President and Congress has power to declare a holiday, be it a working or non-working kind.

Since 2016 – or the first August 18 after the law was passed – Malacañang, through whoever was sitting as Executive Secretary, declared the day a special non-working day in Naga City. Pacquito Ochoa did it once under the late Benigno Aquino III, Salvador Medialdea did it five times under former president Rodrigo Duterte, and Victor Rodriguez did it once during his short stint as Marcos’ “little president.”

In 2019, no such declaration seems to have been made, perhaps because August 19 fell on a Sunday.

In denying Legacion’s request, Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Anna Liza Logan said that since RA 10669 declared the day a working holiday, “this Office is constrained to deny your request.”

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, this Office recognizes the importance of the commemoration of the Death Anniversary of Jesse M. Robredo to the people of Naga CIty,” she said.

What’s makes a holiday?

While colloquially, the word “holiday” means a day off of work or school, there are distinctions. There’s also a difference in “regular holidays” and “special non-working days,” in terms of how much a worker who is still called in to work gets compensated.

There are days, however, that are automatically days with no work or “regular holidays” such as New Year’s Day, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, Eid’l Fitr  and Eid’l Adha, Labor Day, Independence Day, and Christmas Day, among others.

Special non-working days across the country include the EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary, Black Saturday, Ninoy Aquino Day, and Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, among others.

Under a “holiday economics” policy, the President may “move around” holidays to form long weekends. The list of these holidays – which apply across the country – are released by the Office of the President, mid-way the year prior.

For local special non-working days that are specific to a locality (such as Jesse Robredo Day for Naga City), a declaration must also come from the Office of the President or Congress. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.