Binay wants GFIs to impose loan payment moratorium in Taal eruption-hit areas

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MANILA, Philippines — Senator Nancy Binay on Wednesday is calling on government financial institutions (GFIs) such as Pag-IBIG and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to impose a loan payment moratorium for six to 12 months for those affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

In a statement, Binay also appealed to local government units not to collect penalties from those who are unable to pay real property taxes and from businesses that failed to renew their permits due to the effects of Taal’s eruption.

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“We can help ease the burdens of our kababayans hit by natural calamities and a way for government agencies to show continuing concern for its members, and it is way of helping out its members during their times of need,” she said.

Binay, likewise, called on private and government banks, lending agencies, and financial institutions to defer loan payments of borrowers in areas that have been placed under a state of calamity.

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“The situation calls for everyone to be more caring and compassionate. Yung pagbibigay ng loan moratorium and debt restructuring ay malaking tulong para makabangon ang ating mga kababayan,” she said.

(A loan moratorium would be of big help to those affected by the eruption).

“Compassionate care is an important component of rebuilding, and will surely make a difference,” she added.

The province of Batangas was placed under a state of calamity following the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano over the weekend.

Under a state of calamity, the provincial government can now utilize P60 million in emergency funds to help people displaced by the catastrophe, Binay noted.

Binay, meanwhile, called on the government to enlist the help of the private sector in procuring masks as well as other supplies that would protect citizens in affected areas.

This as she blasted the “enterprising” attitude of traders and hoarders that have taken advantage of the situation and exacerbated the lack of supply.

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She warned that there are serious repercussions for establishments that are proven to have jacked up the prices of goods during the crisis.

Permanent evacuation centers

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, renewed his call for the creation of permanent evacuation centers in every municipality and city in the Philippines.

The senator pointed out that the establishment of permanent evacuation centers with the necessary facilities will address the issues encountered by evacuees in times of calamity, including congestion, exposure to hazards and lack of facilities.

Gatchalian, likewise, expressed concern that the current situation, wherein there are no permanent evacuations centers, would take a toll on students and teachers in the long run since many schools are being used as temporary shelters for displaced families.

The Department of Education (DepEd), he noted, reported there are 14 schools in three divisions under Region 4-A being used as evacuation centers.

“Nakagawian na natin na sa tuwing may sakuna sa ating bayan, ang kadalasan na ginagawa nating evacuation centers ay ang mga eskwelahan. Dahil dito, madalas naapektuhan ang pag-aaral ng mga bata kasi hindi natin alam kung kelan mananatili ang evacuees sa mga paaralan,” he said.

(We are used to utilizing schools as evacuation centers during calamities. Because of this, the education of students is usually affected because we don’t know how long the evacuees would need to stay in the schools).

Last July, the senator already filed Senate Bill No. 747 or “An Act Establishing Evacuation Centers in Every Municipality and City, Providing For The Necessary Facilities, Ensuring Their Structural Capacity, and Appropriating Funds.’

Under the bill, municipalities and cities would be mandated to construct an evacuation center for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to emergency events.

The measure also sets the minimum requirements for every evacuation center that will be established, including its location, structural capacity, suitability and capacity of premises, physical amenities, and food safety.

Over the weekend, Taal Volcano spewed a kilometer-high column of ash prompting thousands of residents in affected areas to flee their homes.

Taal Volcano is currently on Alert Level 4 which means that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days,” according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Edited by MUF

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