Marcos declares Dec. 26 special non-working day

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos has granted service recognition incentive (SRI) and gratuity pay to government employees, including contract of service (COS) and job order (JO) workers this year.

The provision of additional cash incentives for state workers was contained in Administrative Orders (AO) 12 and 13, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on Dec. 7 by the authority of the President.

Under AO 12, workers in the Executive branch will receive SRI amounting to P20,000 each.

Qualified for the one-time SRI are civilian personnel in national government agencies, including those in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) occupying regular, contractual or casual positions.

The incentive will also be given to Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology pe rsonnel.

Uniformed personnel of the Bureau of Corrections, Philippine Coast Guard and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are also qualified for the P20,000 SRI.

Civilian personnel occupying regular, contractual or casual positions; personnel who are still in government service as of Nov. 30 and personnel who rendered at least four months of satisfactory service are likewise qualified for the SRI.

As for AO 13, the President granted a one-time gratuity pay of not more than P5,000 each for COS and JO government employees who have rendered at least four months of actual satisfactory performance of service, as stipulated in their respective contracts as of Dec. 15 and whose contracts are still effective as of the same date.

COS and JOs of national government agencies, SUCs, GOCCs and local water districts are qualified to receive the 5,000 gratuity pay .

Bot h payments of P20,000 SRI and P5,000 gratuity pay to all qualified employees shall be given not earlier than Dec. 15.

Employees of legislative and judicial branches and other offices with fiscal autonomy may likewise be granted a one-time SRI by their respective heads at a uniform rate not exceeding P20,000 each.

The grant of SRI to employees in local government units, including in barangays, shall be determined by their respective councils.

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has disqualified a total of 87 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan election candidates as of Monday.

In a radio interview, Comelec Chairman George Garcia said the disqualifications may still be appealed before the commission en banc.

“If they don’t file (an appeal), our decision will become final and executory,” Garcia added.

There were 52 cases of premature campaigning and 21 disqualification cases. Five were declared nuisance candidates and another five had their certificates of candidacy denied due course or canceled.

Three bets were disqualified due to vote buying while one committed both premature campaigning and vote buying.

Garcia disclosed that over 300 disqualification cases remain pending before the Comelec’s First and Second Divisions.

He said they are targeting to resolve all pending cases until early 2024.

“It is expected that the number of disqualified candidates may increase before the year ends. Just give us a few more weeks after the New Year and we can release all these rulings,” he added.

MANILA, Philippines — China is involved in a “creeping invasion” of the Philippines through massive real estate acquisition using laundered money, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said yesterday.

Barbers issued the statement after the House committee on dangerous drugs which he heads found out that one of the fugitive Chinese drug lords managed to own and operate a gasoline station and bought more than four hectares of land in Pampanga, allegedly through Filipino dummies.

He was referring to Filipino-Chinese national Willy Ong, believed to be behind the shipment of 560 kilos of shabu worth P3.6 billion in Mexico, Pampanga last September.

The Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Bureau of Investigation are “all facing a blank wall” in tracking down Ong, who has a company named Empire 999 registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Barbers urged the government, particularly its intelligence and law enforcement agencies, to dig deeper into reports on involvement of some Chinese nationals in real estate binges in the Philippines using dirty money.

“Mr. Ong, based on documents we have on hand, has a UMID ID card and a drivers’ license issued by the Land Transportation Office and used an address in Nueva Ecija. But the NBI and the PNP, despite weeks of search, could not locate him in his given address,” Barbers said.

“We have been receiving reports that the buying spree of these Chinese nationals like Ong is not just limited to Pampanga, and they’re using fake credentials. They get government-issued IDs, register their businesses at SEC, DTI and LGUs, using their Filipino dummies,” he added.

He said Ong’s case is not an isolated one, as there are reports of similar activities involving Chinese particularly in Palawan, Bulacan, Zambales and Davao.

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos yesterday declared Dec. 26 a special non-working day nationwide to give families more time to bond and encourage domestic tourism.

“(The declaration will) give the people the full opportunity to celebrate the holiday with their families and loved ones,” Proclamation no. 425 read.

Marcos ordered the Department of Labor and Employment to issue the appropriate circular to implement the proclamation for the private sector.

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