By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Thursday appealed to the Executive Department to hasten the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 11469, the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” as its legal existence lasts for three months only unless extended by Congress.
“The authority granted to the President during this state of emergency is for a limited period only and is subject to restrictions as stated in the law and in the Constitution,’’ Go stressed.
“Hindi po ito maaabuso. Gagamitin lang po ito sa limited time… at kung kailangan po ay maaaring palawigin pa ito ng Kongreso. Pwede rin po itong bawiin ng Kongreso kung sakaling hindi na po kailangan,’’ he added. (This emergency power will not be abused. It will be used for a limited period only and if needed, it could be extended by Congress. This could also be recalled if there is no longer a need for it.)
Go called on the Executive branch where he was a former member to accelerate the help needed by those affected by the crisis, particularly the 18 million Filipino families under lockdown.
Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, served as the Special Assistant to the President before becoming a senator.
He said a Technical Working Group is being formed in the Executive branch to operationalize the social program of the government.
The Inter-Agency Task Force will be composed of the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) as chairman, DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), DA (Department of Agriculture), PLLO (Presidential Legislative Liaison Office), Department of Finance, and DBM (Department of Budget and Management) as members.
“This will start this social assistance of the government and would soon issue a joint memorandum circular setting forth guidelines to implement the programs.
“So dapat po itong madaliin at di na po makakaantay ang ating mga kababayan,’’ he said. (This program should be implemented as intended beneficiaries could no longer wait.)
Go also urged economic managers and concerned agencies to study if a 30-day grace period for payment of loans and waiving of fees can be considered if necessary, in line with the provisions of the law.
RA 11469 authorizes President Duterte to exercise powers that are necessary in addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in the country.
One of the temporary emergency measures that the President may adopt is to direct financial institutions to implement a grace period of at least 30 days for the payment of all loans without incurring interests, penalties, fees, and other charges.
The President may direct all public and private banks, quasi-banks, financing companies, lending companies, and other financial institutions, including the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), and Pag-ibig Fund.
The covered loans include salary, personal, housing, and motor vehicle loans, as well as credit card payments, falling due within the period of the enhanced community quarantine. Interests, penalties, fees, or other charges will be waived, and persons with multiple loans shall also be given the minimum 30-day grace period for every loan.