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Administration Senator Francis Tolentino has welcomed the inclusion of the ‘three-gives’ payment scheme of utilities in the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 law recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We laud President Duterte for signing Bayanihan 2 into law as this would help affected sectors to recover from the effects of the pandemic said Tolentino, adding that the inclusion of the ‘three-gives’ payment scheme “will unburden many Filipino consumers in the payment of their bills, especially during this time.”

The payment scheme, first introduced Tolentino during the plenary deliberations for Bayanihan 2, provides much-needed relief for Filipinos in the payment of electric, water and other utilities during the month-long lockdown brought by the enhanced community quarantine policy due to the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under Tolentino’s proposal, electric, water, telecommunications and other similar utilities are mandated to provide a minimum of 30-day grace period for the payment of bills due within the period of enhanced community quarantine or modified enhanced community quarantine, without interest, penalties and other charges.

After the grace period, residential occupants and micro, small and medium enterprises may settle their bills in three monthly installments, also without penalties, interest and other charges.

Tolentino said MSME and residential lessees affected by temporary work or operation stoppage are also given relief under the Bayanihan 2 law. They are given a month-long grace period within the period of the community quarantine to settle their obligation. The amount due within the period will be amortized in equal monthly installments until December 31, 2020.

Under the full “three-gives” provision of the Bayanihan 2 Law, all institutions providing electric, water, telecommunications, and other similar utilities are directed to implement a minimum of thirty (30)-day grace period for the payment of utilities falling due within the period of ECQ or MECQ without incurring interests, penalties, and other charges.

After the grace period, unpaid residential and MSME utility bills may be settled on a staggered basis payable in not less than three monthly installments without penalties. Covered institutions may offer less onerous payment terms, with the consent of their clients subject to the approval of their respective regulators.

In the case of the electric power sector, the minimum 30 day-grace period and staggered payment without interests, penalties and other charges shall apply to all payments due within the period of the ECQ or MECQ in the entire electric power value chain to include generation companies, the transmission utility, and distribution utilities.

The law also provides for a minimum of 30-day grace period on residential rents and commercial rents of lessees not permitted to work, and MSMEs ordered to temporarily cease operations, falling due within the period of the community quarantine without incurring interests, penalties, fees, and other charges.

All amounts due within the period of community quarantine shall be amortized in equal monthly installments until December 31, 2020 without any interests, penalties and other charges. No increase in rent shall be imposed during the same period. The minimum thirty 30-day grace period shall be reckoned from the date of the lifting of the ECQ or MECQ. (JCC)

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