Unluckiness may be the usual word associated with the number 13, but it symbolizes holiday season benefits for Filipino workers. 13th Month Pay is a mandatory law that refers to giving monetary benefits to employees before the 24th of December, every year. Great numbers of Filipino workers always look forward to this in order to celebrate the spirit of Christmas.
However, 13th Month Pay may have been created many years ago, but it is still clouded with propaganda. In times of the Christmas season, let’s go behind the history of this law and learn its origin.
The Efforts of Labor Leaders
A lawyer and a labor leader from Bacolod, Negoros Occidental, Zoilo de la Cruz Jr., conceptualized and authored the 13th Month Pay Bill. He was known to be called the Father of 13th Month Pay. He also served as president of the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry in the Philippines (NACUSIP) in 1975.
This claim was supported by Marchel Espina in his published obituary in The Freeman last December 17th of 2014. Also, it was confirmed by the son of Zoilo named Ronaldo de la Cruz, the current NUCASIP president that his father drafted the bill.
On the other hand, Eulogio R. Lerum, lawyer and labor leader of the National Labor Union, sponsored the 13th Month Pay bill of Zoilo. Moreover, Lerum proposed the “10% night work premium, 5 days annual incentive leave, and payment by the employer of the 10 percent attorney’s fees in case of illegal withholding of wages“.
Presidential Decree No. 851
Presidential decree No. 851 refers to the requirement of employers to pay the employees of 13th Month Pay. This was signed by Ferdinand Marcos Sr. on the 16th of December, 1975. However, PD No. 851 did not apply to all employees, but rather, to those who only earned less than P1,000 as a basic salary. Furthermore, this decree was used as propaganda for not crediting the labor leaders who strived for the bill.
Modification to Presidential Decree No. 851
Issued Memorandum Order No. 28 of Corazon Aquino modified PD No. 851 on August 13, 1986. This referred to the inclusion of 13th Month Pay to all employees regardless of basic earnings. But still, not applicable to government employees. Therefore, Congress enacted the Republic Act 6686 on the 14th of December 1988, to cover the government employees as recipients of the benefit too.
All Filipino employees have the right to receive 13th Month Pay, regardless of political views. Because the creation of the law manifests the efforts of labor unions who strived to achieve this right. Moreover, the room to learn our history is never away even during the Christmas season. So, to Filipino workers, enjoy the reap of your holiday season benefits!