Senator Bong Go has appealed to all government and privately owned banks, quasi-banks, credit and lending facilities, financial institutions and others not to increase their interest rates for consumer and commercial loans while Luzon is still under enhanced community quarantine due to the rising cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Go also called on these institutions to come up with flexible and convenient restructuring of existing loans to enable their clients to pay their arrears at a later period and at a lower amount.
“In this time of national crisis, everybody must sacrifice for the greater good. Let us not burden our people,” Go also said.
Go stressed that both the government and the private sector must work together and do what may be deemed necessary to address and respond to the growing threats of COVID-19, and the socio-economic impact that comes with it.
“We appeal for everyone’s cooperation and compassion. Magbayanihan po tayo,” he said.
For her part, Senator Grace Poe requested the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to realign some P17 billion in idle funds to support public utility drivers who have lost their income due to the enhanced community quarantine.
“By our estimate, there is about P17 billion worth of programs and projects in the 2020 DOTr budget that cannot be implemented due to the pandemic on top of those not yet sunk in the ground from 2019,” said Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services.
“We might as well realign these funds for the benefit of our transport drivers whose earnings are severely affected due to the enhanced quarantine,” she added.
In enforcing stricter social distancing measures to curb the rapid spread of the disease, the Office of the President had earlier suspended mass public transportation in the entire Luzon. Several provinces have since implemented similar policies to stem the spread of the virus in their jurisdiction.
The Philippines has about 130,000 jeepney drivers and some 65,000 transport network vehicle service drivers.
In Metro Manila, there are no less than 13,000 public utility bus drivers and about 47,000 motorcycle taxi drivers.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which was signed into law earlier this week, the President is authorized to discontinue programs, projects and activities, and utilize the savings generated to augment items vital in the fight against COVID-19, including amelioration for affected communities.
Poe pointed out that the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law earmarks 30 percent of its incremental revenues for mitigation measures, including fuel vouchers for franchise holders of public utility jeepneys.
She said the budget has ceased to be set in stone.
The amount for the fuel vouchers should be repurposed as cash or food assistance in this time of emergency, Poe said./ Stacy Ang