Press Release
January 21, 2013

Senate declares Chinese New Year as special working holiday

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill declaring the Chinese New Year a special working holiday as a sign of goodwill and amity between the Philippines and China.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Committee of Education, Arts and Culture and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 3323, said the proposed legislation seeks to recognize the great contributions of the Chinese-Filipino in the Philippine society. "Our relations with China go far back in history before the first Spanish fleet even reached our shores," Angara noted out.

"Today, ethnic (or pure) Chinese comprise about 1.35 million of our population while Filipinos with Chinese descent comprise 22.8 million our the population," he added.

Chinese-Filipinos, Angara said, have made significant socio-economic impact on the country in terms of employment, community service, banking and finance.

"Our relationship with China, especially on the bilateral trade and commerce, continues to flourish. Total trade between our countries reached $32.54 billion in 2011, surpassing the $30 billion record in 2007," Angara revealed.

He said China remains to be the Philippines' third largest export market with exports reaching $6.237 billion in 2011 and the country's third largest import supplier with imports pegged at $6.085 billion in 2011.

He said Chinese schools, businesses and other Chinese establishments usually celebrate the Chinese New year as a non-working holiday.

"Many of us are familiar with Filipino-Chinese's customs and traditions and many of us join them in their annual celebration of the Chinese New Year," Angara said.

Also approved today on third and final reading is a bill authorizing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to reforest of 3,000 hectares of public land in Cagayan de Oro City.

Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and sponsor of House Bill 1398, said reforesting the land in Cagayan de Oro will protect its people and the environment from flashfloods.

He said the recent typhoons that lashed Mindanao, particularly in Cagayan de Oro, are reasons for the urgent approval of the proposed legislation.

"The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources shall immediately include in the department's program the implementation of this Act, the funding of which shall be included in the annual general appropriations act," according to the bill. (PILAR MACROHON, PRIB)

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