Quezon City allows loan facilities for poor to operate during lockdown
MANILA, Philippines – Loan facilities and credit cooperatives catering to the poor will be allowed to operate in a limited capacity in Quezon City during the lockdown.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte issued an executive order exempting such establishments from the enhanced community quarantine rules.
The city's Executive Order No 29 covers banks, money exchange and remittance companies, e-money issuers, pawnshops, payment system operators, and non-stock savings and loans associations.
"We believe that this addresses a gap in the rules, which is sorely needed by our less fortunate residents, and we hope the national government feels the same way," said Belmonte, calling the measure pro-poor.
Also allowed to operate are financial service cooperatives, credit cooperatives, and multi-purpose cooperatives that provide loans and credit to their members, as long as they are regulated by the Cooperative Development Authority.
Other government-accredited establishments providing micro-financing, loans, and other forms of credit to low-income individuals or the unemployed are also exempted from the ECQ.
In the early days of the lockdown, Malacañang had categorized banks and money transfer services as "essential services," allowing them to operate with a skeleton workforce all over Metro Manila.
But Belmonte noted that banks often ask for too many requirements, cutting poorer households of access to their loan services.
Skeleton workforce. The additional establishments exempted by Quezon City are ordered to deploy only a skeleton workforce given the need to continue physical distancing.
Their personnel will be allowed to travel to and from their place of operation. To get past law enforcers, they must always carry valid identification cards issued by their companies.
They must also wear face masks, observe proper hygiene, and avoid mass gatherings, said Belmonte.
Pawnshops have reported a dwindling supply of cash due to the lockdown. The government, through the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, has also ordered a 30-day grace period for loan payments and interest during the lockdown period, which extends everytime the lockdown is extended.
All over Metro Manila, where strict stay-at-home measures are being enforced, plenty of families are cash-strapped because their breadwinners are unable to report to work.
In response, the government has promised that middle-class workers will receive wage subsidies. A P51-billion fund is supposed to be distributed to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will benefit around 3.4 million workers, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.
Each worker is set to receive P5,000 to P8,000 to cover the first two months of the Luzon-wide quarantine.
The Department of Labor and Employment, however, stopped accepting applications for workers' cash aid on April 15, saying it did not anticipate that the P1.6-billion fund for the program was nearly depleted after the lockdown was extended – at the time – to April 30.
The lockdown was supposed to on April 30 but it was extended for Metro Manila and other Luzon areas to May 15.
Quezon City continues to have the highest number of coronavirus patients at 1,104 as of Friday, April 24. Of these, 106 have died while 133 have recovered.
Quezon City is the largest and most populated city in Metro Manila, with over 3 million residents. – Rappler.com