Labor leader authored 13th-month pay, Marcos decreed it, Cory amended it

As the arguments between Marcos loyalists and anti-Marcos groups heat up, both parties continue to trade barbs. Now, one of the latest exchange between the groups has been focused on the 13th month pay that was touted by Marcos supporters as something that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos signed into law.

Facebook page “Library of Most Controversial Files” even dared anti-Marcos Filipinos not to accept their 13th month pay to avoid insulting their dignity.

“Please don’t accept the 13th month pay. That will be an insult to your dignity and to what you are fighting for. Just give the money to charities and the poor,” the page said in its Facebook post.

As of writing, the said post has been shared almost 1,400 times and have earned over 3,000 reactions.

Labor Leader Authored 13th Month Pay

Marcos did sign Presidential Decree No. 851 or the 13th month pay rule on December 16, 1975.

However, it had a limitation – only employees earning less than P1,000 per month were to receive a 13th month pay.

“Section 1. All employers are hereby required to pay to all their employees receiving a basic salary of not more than P1,000 a month, regardless of the nature of their employment, a 13th-month pay not later than December 24 of every year.”


The decree also included the reasons why Marcos issued it, including the following:

“WHEREAS, it is necessary to further protect the level of real wages from the ravage of worldwide inflation;

WHEREAS, there has been no increase in the legal minimum wage rates since 1970;

WHEREAS, the Christmas season is an opportune time for society to show its concern for the plight of the working masses so they may properly celebrate Christmas and New Year.”

However, during our research, another name cropped up. Facebook user Bernie Manimbo brought up the late Bacolod lawyer and labor leader Zoilo dela Cruz as the person who “authored” the 13th month pay bill.

Labor Leader Authored 13th Month Pay

When we Googled dela Cruz and 13th month pay, a Philippine Star article published on December 1, 2014 about his death came up, wherein he was dubbed as the “father of 13th month pay.”

“He (dela Cruz) conceptualized the 13th month pay, the Social Amelioration Program in the sugar industry and payment of cost of living allowance (COLA) to workers in the private sector. He organized the Sugar Industry Foundation Inc. and was one of the founders of TUCP,” the Philippine Star article read.

And a short read on presidential decrees showed that they were an innovation during Marcos’ time when he proclaimed Martial Law and he was the only one who got to issue PDs. The Official Gazette noted this about the PDs: “They served to arrogate unto the Chief Executive the lawmaking powers of Congress.” Under the Freedom Constitution of 1986, the late President Cory Aquino recognized the validity of some PDs “unless otherwise repealed.”


When she assumed office, Cory modified PD No. 851 by issuing Memorandum Order No. 28 on August 13, 1986.

It stated, “Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 851 is hereby modified to the extent that all employees are hereby required to pay all their rank-and-file employees a 13th month pay not later than December 24 of every year.”

This meant that all employees, regardless of whether they are earning less or more than P1,000, were entitled to receive a 13th-month pay from their employers.

Even former President Benigno Aquino III signed into law Republic Act No. 10653, which provided for an increase in the tax exemption ceiling on bonuses and 13th month pay, from P30,000 to P82,000, on February 12, 2015.

Then House Ways and Means committee chair Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo said that PNoy’s move will benefit the middle class, especially the wage and salary earners.

So to those who gloated over the fact that it was Marcos who decreed the 13th month pay, credits should also be given to Zoilo dela Cruz for conceptualizing it, to the late Cory Aquino for amending it to include all rank-and-file employees after removing the P1,000 ceiling, and to PNoy for raising the tax-exemption ceiling.

Moreover, anti-Marcos netizens hit back against Marcos supporters regarding the 13th month pay issue. One such reaction would be this post from Facebook page “Hot Manila.”

“All hail Ferdinand Marcos! He gave us 13th month pay! And murdered 3,200 Filipinos. And tortured tens of thousands. And stole US$ 10 billion. And destroyed the republic’s institutions. Now that’s what you call a good deal,” the page wrote.


And here are other reactions from those who condemned the human rights violations during Martial Law:



Sources: (,,,


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