BAGUIO

Debt relief measures under the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’

#EasyAtSEC

AS THE nation continuously counters the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in the lives of all Filipinos, our lawmakers have come up with a law that offers relief to all affected borrowers in paying their dues to creditors.

Under Republic Act 11469, aptly called the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the national government directed all banks, quasi banks, financing companies, lending companies, and other financial institutions to implement a grace period for a minimum of 30 days for the payment of all loans falling due within the Enhanced Community Quarantine Period.

In keeping with its role as the agency which exercises jurisdiction and supervision over financing and lending companies, SEC reiterates this mandate to said companies to observe a mandatory grace period for the payment of loans, while the country remains under a state of national emergency. This grace period applies to due dates falling within the ECQ period, which originally was from March 17 to April 14. Given the latest extension of the ECQ until May 15, 2020, the grace period is also automatically extended under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) crafted by the Department of Finance.

The mandatory grace period aims to give borrowers more time to raise the funds needed to repay their loans and to allow them to prioritize their needs amid the pandemic. Further, the IRR provides that all covered loans shall not incur interest on interest, penalties, fees, and other charges. Borrowers are likewise given the option to pay the accrued interest in full after the mandatory grace period or on a staggered basis over the remaining life of the loan.

Nonetheless, those who have enough savings and whose income was not affected by the ECQ may still choose to pay their obligations when they fall due, even within the ECQ period, should it be possible for them to make payments considering the quarantine guidelines.

It is important to note that violators of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act shall be subject to appropriate penalties provided under the said law, as well as under other applicable statutes and guidelines.

During this ongoing battle with an unseen enemy, the cooperation and compliance of lending and financing companies with these debt relief measures would greatly help ease the burden of our countrymen.

The Commission, in turn, has adopted guidelines and measures to help business companies and other corporations cope with the Covid-19 situation, including those extending deadlines for the filing of annual and other regular reports, acceptance of reports through email and allowing scanned reports to be filed with digital signatures, and even without the required notarization in the meantime.

The full text of the cited IRR and other pertinent guidelines relative to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act provisions governing debt relief measures are available at http://www.sec.gov.ph/. Helen Veryan Valdez, Information Officer, SEC-BEO


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