MANILA — “Hindi dahil nagiging GCQ na ang maraming lugar sa bansa ay manumbalik kaagad-agad ang kabuhayan, trabaho o negosyo ng mga kababayan natin,” Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said as he reiterated his appeal to banks and other financial institutions to provide restructuring programs for corporate and individual borrowers amid uncertainties due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
As the country gradually re-opens its economy, Go urged banks and other financial institutions to assist debtors get through this tough time. According to Go, this will also help the economy regain its momentum by providing wider space for borrowers to maneuver as they slowly resume business and work after some quarantine restrictions are being relaxed by authorities.
“Nakikiusap po tayo sa mga bangko at ibang financial institutions na bigyan ng palugit o magkaroon ng financial restructuring programs para sa mga negosyo at indibidwal na pinaka-apektado ng COVID-19 pandemic,” Go said.
“Bigyan po natin sila ng pagkakataong makaahon muli mula sa krisis na ito at tulungan nating mapagaan ang kanilang pinapasan,” he added.
The Senator also reiterated his appeal to banks, quasi-banks and other financial institutions, both public and private, to provide a grace period and impose no increase in interest rates on consumer and corporate loans to assist the Filipino middle class in recovering from the unprecedented challenges brought by COVID-19 crisis.
“Marami pong Pilipino na hindi kasama sa poorest of the poor pero kailangan rin ng tulong. Ito ang mga may trabaho pero apektado ang operasyon ng negosyo o ng mga employers nila. Huwag natin silang pabayaan,” he said.
Go added that Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act gives the President the necessary authority to implement the provision on payment of loans.
Under RA 11469, President Rodrigo Duterte is authorized to direct all public and private banks, quasi-banks, financing companies, lending companies, and other financial institutions, including the Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System and Pag-ibig Fund, to implement a minimum of a 30-day grace period for the payment of all loans without incurring interests, penalties, fees and other charges.
The covered loans include salary, personal, housing, and motor vehicle loans, as well as credit card payments, falling due within the period of the enhanced community quarantine. Interests, penalties, fees or other charges can be waived, and persons with multiple loans may also be given the minimum 30-day grace period for every loan.
Earlier on, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., the largest business organization in the country, repeated its call on banks and other concerned institutions “to grant temporary but indispensable relief to borrowers hardest hit by pandemic through voluntary and negotiated loan term extension or restructuring.”
While commending the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for heeding its earlier call, the PCCII also suggested to incentivize lenders to defer or restructure loans principal repayments for both corporate and individual borrowers burdened by the pandemic.
They also urged the banking sector to “provide more businesses more breathing room to help support trade and industry survive the pandemic.”
As support for affected Filipinos, the BSP and the Securities and Exchange Commission have earlier implemented the allocation of funds for assistance to local governments as well as to micro, small and medium enterprises by subsidizing the salaries of their employees who are mostly from the lower middle class.
“Let’s give the people time to prioritize their safety and the welfare of their families first, provided that after we overcome this crisis, we trust that they will fulfill their financial obligations,” he added.