By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Francis Tolentino is pushing for the passage of a bill that will allow the payment of rent, electricity, water, and phone bills in installments during a state of calamity.
Tolentino on Tuesday said he filed Senate Bill No. 1473, which seeks to provide installment payment for residential and utility bills in times of national emergencies. He called this the proposed “Three-Gives Law.”
Under the bill, “there shall be a moratorium on all residential utility bills during the entire duration of a state of calamity.”
“Holders of public utility franchises and all service providers are prohibited from exacting payment or from disconnecting the service due to non-payment during the entire duration of the moratorium,” it stated.
The amounts that fall due during the period of moratorium period “shall be payable in three, equal monthly installments, without interest, which shall accrue a month after the cessation of a state of calamity,” the bill further provided.
The measure, however, said customers may still pay their dues voluntarily.
Tolentino said his proposal will ease the burden of Filipinos who have been grappling with the impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“It is the intent of this measure to uphold the general welfare of the people and to assist their economic well-being immediately after the occurrence of natural or man-made calamities or health epidemic,” he said.
“This will be a huge help to our countrymen who have been affected by COVID-19, especially those who lost their jobs and livelihood,” he added.
Tolentino proposed a fine of P1 million for violators.
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act currently mandates the extension of deadlines and grant of at least 30 days grace period for the filing and payment of taxes, loans, as well as residential rents without interests during the enhanced community quarantine.
Due to the enhanced community quarantine, several utility service providers have also suspended payment deadlines and offered grace periods to their customers.