Finance Dep’t. issues rules on 30-day extension for loan payments due within Luzon quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 1, 2020   •   1299

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) on Wednesday, April 1 issued the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the mandated 30-day grace period for the payment of all loans falling due within the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III signed the IRR which serves as the guidelines for the implementation of Section 4(aa) of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law.

Dominguez said this provision covers banks, quasi-banks, non-stock savings and loan associations, credit card issuers and pawnshops, other credit granting financial institutions under the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Securities and Exchange Commission and Cooperative Development Authority, both public and private including the Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, and Pag-IBIG Fund.

Under the Bayanihan law, these institutions are mandated to “implement a 30-day grace period for all loans with principal and/or interest falling due within the ECQ Period without incurring interest on interest, penalties, fees and other charges.”

All lenders are likewise prohibited from requiring their clients to waive the application of the measure’s provisions.

“No waiver previously executed by borrowers covering payments falling due during the ECQ Period shall be valid. Nonetheless, the grant of grace period by the above-mentioned Covered Institutions shall not preclude the borrowers from paying their obligations as they fall due during the period of ECQ should they so desire,” the IRR added.

The mandatory extension also applies to each of the multiple loans of borrowers with the principal and/or interest falling due within the quarantine period.

Under Section 5.01 of the IRR, borrowers whose loans fall due within the said period are spared from paying an additional documentary stamp tax (DST) as a consequence of the relief granted. Also, no DST shall be imposed on “credit extensions and credit restructuring, micro-lending including those obtained from pawnshops and extensions thereof during the ECQ period.”

The Luzon enhanced community quarantine covers the period from March 17 to April 12, based on the Proclamation No. 929 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last March 16.

The initial 30-day grace period shall automatically be extended if the ECQ period is extended by the president pursuant to his emergency powers under the Bayanihan law, the IRR also stated.

“All covered Institutions shall not charge or apply interest on interest, fees, and charges during the 30-day grace period to future payments/amortizations of the individuals, households, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and corporate borrowers,” the rules said.

As for the accrued interest for the 30-day grace period, this may be paid by the borrower on a staggered basis over the remaining life of the loan.

“Nonetheless, this shall not preclude the borrower from paying the accrued interest in full on the new date following the application of the 30-day grace period or extended grace period, as the case may be,” the IRR stated.

Violators of the IRR provisions shall be subject to the appropriate penalties under RA 11469, as well as existing laws, rules, and regulations, the DOF said.

The department said the implementing rules shall take effect immediately upon publication.

‘No need to panic buy,’ Palace reminds public

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 3, 2020

Consumers in Metro Manila flocked to grocery stores after President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday night, approved the reversion of some areas to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in response to the medical frontliners’ plea for a two-week “timeout”.

This prompted Malacañang on Monday to remind the public not to panic buy amid the implementation of MECQ in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“Walang dahilan para mag-panic buying. Supplies are high, delivered in supermarkets in anticipation of bigger demand prior to MECQ,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Palace official reiterated that only essential establishments will remain open including supermarkets, banks, and hospitals. He also said that the “time out” will be used to strengthen the government’s testing, tracing, and treatment of COVID-19.

“This is primarily to accede to the demand of the frontliners for a break. A ‘time out,'” Roque said. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Pampanga to return to ECQ if spike in COVID-19 cases continues, governor warns

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 8, 2020

Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda warned of reverting the province to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to rise.

“Tumaas po ang mga kaso natin. I have no choice kung hindi ibalik sa GCQ ito o ECQ kung aabot tayo sa worst situation (Cases in our province increased. I have no choice but to revert to GCQ or ECQ if the situation worsens),” he said.

After the province was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) on June 15, new COVID-19 cases went up by 25. As of July 7, according to the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, there are 166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Pampanga, with 100 recoveries and 16 deaths.

Only Arayat and Masantol, Pampanga remain COVID-19-free, the Pampanga governor said. He reminds residents to only leave the house if necessary.

“Hindi po sinasabi ng MGCQ na libre kayo na makipagkwentuhan sa ibang lugar (Just because it’s MGCQ, it doesn’t mean you are free to meet up in other places),” he said.

Barangay Capalangan and Sulipan in Apalit are currently under hard lockdown until July 16 due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. AAC (with reports from Leslie Huidem)

Metro Manila may revert to ECQ if COVID-19 situation worsens — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila may return to stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation worsens in the capital region.

In a televised press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government may possibly reimpose ECQ on Metro Manila if hospitals in the region hit maximum capacity due to surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Pag lumala talaga, at mawalan tayo ng critical care capacity o di kaya ay case doubling rate ay bumalik sa dati na napakabilis, wala po tayong alternatibo,” he said.

“Yun nga po ang pinapakiusap sa ating kababayan, pag tayo bumalik sa mas estriktong quarantine, baka wala na po tayong hanapbuhay na pwedeng gawin,” he added.

Roque issued the statement after the country recorded a record-high 2,434 additional cases on Sunday, bringing the total cases to 44,254. Most of these infections were reported in Metro Manila.

Metro Manila is currently under general community quarantine where public transport and some business sectors have been allowed to resume operations at a limited capacity.

It was previously placed under ECQ for more than two months.

The Department of Health earlier said that the spike in infections was due to increased physical contact of the public following the easing of quarantine restrictions.

But Roque said the government had no choice but to loosen the quarantine measures in order to revitalize the economy.

“Wala naman tayong alternatibo kundi magbukas ng ekonomiya… Kung di pa po natin mabubuksan, mamya buhay nga tayo, mamatay naman tayo dahil wala tayong hanapbuhay,” he said.

The Palace official, meanwhile, belied reports that hospitals in Metro Manila have reached full capacity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Roque said that as of July 5, Metro Manila’s critical care utilization is still at 63 percent or moderate risk level.

He also clarified that many hospitals have yet to breach the 30 percent hospital bed capacity for coronavirus patients.

“Nililinaw po namin na yung mga kumakalat na fake news na ubos na raw po ang hospital beds sa ating mga ospital, di po yan totoo,” he said.

Roque also revealed that Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega has been designated to head the Hospital One Incident Command which will determine the critical care utilization and hospital care capacity rate. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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