House bill declaring national election day as non-working holiday advances
MANILA, Philippines — A proposal to declare the national election day as a non-working holiday to encourage higher voter turnout has been approved by the House of Representatives on second reading, along with amendments to include regional elections in the mix.
During Tuesday’s session, House Bill No. 8187 was approved via viva voce or voice voting.
However, before the bill was voted upon, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez proposed that regional elections like the Cordillera Administrative Region and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao be included in the holidays.
Rodriguez said he supports the bill, as it would remove the practice of having a sitting president declare elections as a holiday.
The lawmaker expressed concerns about why regional elections, which are equally important — considering the regions’ role in nation-building — are not included.
“So what happens to our elections of our Muslim brothers — and there is now a pending bill which we support, to be able to establish the Cordillera Autonomous Region. Is it not that to be able to address the same concern, that our Muslim brothers and Cordillera brothers […] that we should include regional elections?” Rodriguez asked.
“Regional elections are very important. Regional governments are important,” he added.
The bill’s sponsors did not object to Rodriguez’ proposed amendment, which would now be included once the bill is voted upon on the third reading.
Under the version of the bill contained under Committee Report No. 548, only the day designated for the conduct of national elections, or the second Monday of May, is the only date considered for the non-working holiday.
In 2022, May 9, the date of the presidential elections, was only declared a holiday after former president Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 1357 to allow people to exercise their right to suffrage.