By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go yesterday lauded the decision of the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) to continue to provide necessary services to the public and maintain reasonable lending rates as Luzon and other areas are under enhanced community quarantine to help deter the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, earlier appealed to all government and privately owned banks, quasi-banks, credit and lending facilities, financial institutions and the like to keep their services functional and convenient and to allow a grace period for the payment of loans amid the ongoing quarantine measures.
He had urged banks and other financial institutions in the country not to increase interest rates for consumer and commercial loans while most areas in the country are still under enhanced community quarantine.
Go also encouraged 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 a statement released on Sunday, March 29, the BAP asked its member banks to: Maintain reasonable lending rates; Maintain a level of branch presence that allows for the execution of transactions that cannot be performed digitally; Keep digital channels open; Ensure availability of cash in open branches and the majority of ATMs; Contribute to stable and liquid financial markets.
The statement also noted that “the Bangko Sentral (ng Pilipinas) has reduced both the policy rate and reserve requirements, and has taken steps to ease the regulatory burden borne by banks”; and that the government “has passed the Bayanihan Act, which gives the executive branch extraordinary powers to address the current crisis.”
“In this time of national crisis, everybody must sacrifice for the greater good. Huwag po natin mas pahirapan pa ang taumbayan,” Go said, reiterating his statement released on March 26, three days before BAP issued their own statement. (Let us not make their lives any harder.)
“Both 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,” he added.
Go also appealed for everyone’s cooperation and compassion in these trying times.
“Magbayanihan po tayo. Tulungan nating bumangon ang bawat Pilipino bilang isang nagkakaisang bansa (Let us help one another. Let us help every Filipino to rise as one united nation),” he said. “Together, we can heal as one,” he added.