SAVING ELECTRICITY. Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno attends a Palace media briefing on Tuesday (March 7, 2023). He said the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to implement daylight-saving time and work-from-home scheme every Friday within its agency to save electricity. (Screengrab from RTVM)

MANILA – Office hours in government agencies may soon be adjusted to 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays and work-from-home setups on Fridays, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Tuesday.

In a Palace press conference, Diokno bared that the Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to implement daylight saving time within its agency to save electricity and promote energy efficiency.

He said this will be part of the government's short-term interventions to mitigate high inflation in the country.

Diokno said this proposal was presented before President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during a Cabinet meeting at Malacañan Palace earlier in the day.

“Pinakita rin namin na napaka-importante na i-address natin yung energy kasi isang complaint talaga sa Pilipinas ay napakamahal ng energy cost (We also presented to the President that it’s important to address energy because there are complaints that energy cost in the Philippines is expensive),” he said.

“Isa sa mga proposal, uumpisahan ng DOE, ay magkakaroon siya ng change ng time ng pagpasok sa opisina. Umpisahan ‘yan ng 7 [a.m.] tapos matatapos sya ng 4 [p.m.]. Ito yung daylight saving time (One of the proposals to be carried out by the DOE is to implement adjusted office hours. They will start at 7 am and end at 4 pm so this is what you call daylight saving time),” he added.

Diokno said the DOE is also eyeing to implement a four-day in-person work week while the work-from-home (WFH) scheme will be done every Friday.

Should the DOE experiment be successful, he said the daylight-saving time and the four-day in-person work-week plus one day WFH setup will be adopted in other government agencies as well.

Although the private sector will not be required to implement the same working hours, he said they might also be encouraged to do the same.

“We cannot mandate the office hours for the private, but mostly government agencies. Baka sumunod na rin yung private sector. Maganda nga ito, mas maaga yung pasok mo, di ba? Hindi ma-traffic (But the private sector may follow suit. Going to work earlier is a good thing, right? You can avoid traffic). You go early and then you go back earlier also,” he said.

Lower AC temperature settings

Meanwhile, he said the DOE also proposed to keep the default temperature setting of air-conditioning units at 25 degrees Celsius.

“Babawasan natin yung require natin, hindi ko alam ung ano ang temperature natin dito ngayon, rerequire natin na ng 25 (We will lower the default temperature, I don’t know the temperature here now, but we’re going to keep the default temperature setting to 25),” he said.

Asked how much electricity would be saved from daylight-saving time and setting a lower temperature for air-conditioning units, Diokno said: “I cannot answer you that, but I’m sure it’s going to be substantial.”

The Philippines first implemented daylight-saving scheme during the 1973 global oil crisis which led to severe power outages.

“We did this before during the energy crisis. Nagtataka nga ako bakit (I’m wondering why) we did not do this sooner. Sana tinutukan natin kaagad ‘to. Kasi we cannot influence ang presyo ng supply (We should have addressed this before. Because we cannot influence the prices of supply) but we can do something on the demand side,” he said.

During the Cabinet meeting, Diokno and other Cabinet members updated Marcos on the economic situation in the country.

Part of the discussion focused on several measures to mitigate the current inflation pressures.

Aside from Diokno, also present during the Cabinet meeting were National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Department of Trade and Industry DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., DOE Secretary Raphael Lotilla, and Department of Agriculture (DA) Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, among others. (PNA)