Residential tenants struggling financially amid enhanced quarantine and lockdowns across the country can soon find relief now that the bill called “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” has been signed into law, according to Senator Grace Poe.
A freeze on all home rents due within the period of the enhanced quarantine, which the government enforced to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19, was one of the key provisions that Poe had successfully pushed for inclusion in the bill when the Senate tackled it during a special session on Monday.
The provision also states that interests, penalties, fees and other charges shall not be imposed on tenants following the 30-day moratorium on their rental payments.
“Many renters live paycheck to paycheck but during these extraordinary times when they suddenly need to work or not at all, they might not have enough to pay for their rent and may even face the possibility of eviction,” said Poe on Wednesday.
She said the rent freeze will ensure that tenants, especially low-wage earners, will be in the safety and comfort of their homes for the duration of the public health crisis. She acknowledged that some homeowners and landlords have already done so of their own accord.
“In pushing for this provision in the bill, we hope to ease the growing financial burden of the pandemic particularly on millions of poor Filipino households,” said Poe.
During Monday’s special session, Poe had also firmly pushed for the provision of a cash subsidy to about 18 million low-income families to give them immediate assistance and ease their anxiety over diminishing food stocks while forced to stay home.
“One of the things we want to expedite is the downloading of help immediately but allocating goods is not as quick or as fast as downloading cash,” Poe said.
The bill, which gives the President the power to realign any appropriation in the national budget to fast-track government response against COVID-19, entitles poor Filipino families P5,000 to P8,000 financial aid for two months under an expanded Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
Among the other vital provisions in the measure that Poe advocated were the priority procurement, allocation and distribution of medical goods vital in the fight against the pandemic, the payment of a special risk allowance for all public health frontliners, the anti-hoarding and profiteering of hygiene and sanitation products, and the 30-day moratorium for all loans./Stacy Ang