Senator Win Gatchalian echoes reminders for private lending institutions accredited under the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Automatic Payroll Deduction System (APDS) to comply on not imposing penalties for late payments as the country combats the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a March 20 letter addressed to private lending institutions accredited under the APDS, DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn M. Sevilla cited that under the Terms and Conditions of the APDS Accreditation (TCAA), the lender shall not charge teachers and other school personnel penalties, fines, or surcharges if they incur delayed payments or if DepEd fails to remit payments on time due to force majeure or any extreme circumstances.
Sevilla said that delays are anticipated in the processing and releasing of remittances of loan obligations due to the ongoing enhanced community quarantine and work-from-home arrangement in the Executive Branch. The DepEd also urged these lending institutions not to impose additional interest because of delays in payment.
According to Gatchalian, the recently signed Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act reinforces financial firms’ obligations to heed DepEd’s appeal.
“Malaking tulong para sa mga guro at kawani ng mga paaralan ang palugit para sa kanilang mga bayarin. Isinabatas na natin sa pamamagitan ng ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’ ang ilang hakbang na ginagawa na ng ibang mga bangko na ipagpaliban muna ang pagbabayad ng anumang loan habang may kinakaharap tayong krisis pang kalusugan. Dapat matulungan din natin ang bawat guro at kawaning itawid ang pangangailangan ng kanilang mga pamilya,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which grants special powers to President Rodrigo Duterte in containing the COVID-19 crisis, mandates all banks, quasi-banks, financing or lending companies and other public and private financial institutions to implement a minimum 30-day grace period for the payment of loans. The Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), and the PAG-IBIG Fund are also required to comply with this provision of the law.
This mandatory grace period covers all loans, credit card and residential rental payments while the enhanced community quarantine remains in effect. The law also provides that payments for these loans will not incur interests, penalties, fees, or other charges.