MANILA, Philippines – In the “predominantly Catholic” Philippines, December 8 will now be a special non-working holiday, thanks to a measure signed into law on December 28, 2017.
Republic Act Number 10966 was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte into law on December 28, 2017.
A Copy of the Republic Act was transmitted to Congress – both the House and the Senate on December 29. The act’s full name is: “An Act Declaring December 8 of Every Year A Special Nonworking Holiday in the Entire Country to Commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Principal Patroness of the Philippines.”
The measure was introduced by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas through House Bill 4661, filed on December 12, 2016.
For Catholics, December 8 is a holy day of obligation, or a day wherein believers are expected to hear and attend Mass. In his explanatory note, Fariñas noted that countries like Guam and Malta take the day off on December 8 in order to observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
“Filipinos, in particular, profess their devotion to the Blessed Virgin through venerative and celebratory practices pursuant to the Marian dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church… Catholicism plays a significant role in the development of Filipino culture, philosophies, politics, education and social norms. Declaring December 8 as a special non-working holiday will strengthen the established devotion of Filipinos to the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary,” said Fariñas in his explanatory note.
The measure was passed in the House in May 2017 and the Senate, in December 2017.