by Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star), 22 May 2020
MANILA, Philippines — Consumer complaints about failure to avail of banking services, accrued interest as well as questions on suspension of loan payments, rose during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the BSP’s Consumer Assistance Mechanism (CAM) received 21,913 complaints through electronic mails from March to May.
Diokno said three percent or 1,182 of the total complaints involved pandemic-related scenario such as the suspension of loan payments, suspension of payment of accrued interest and other consumer concerns involving waiver of unfunded check fees, among others.
“We expect BSP-supervised financial institutions to provide and communicate the least burdensome payment options to their clients,” Diokno said.
He said banks should help borrowers particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) cope with the unprecedented health crisis.
“They must consider this as their patriotic duty to help the public, especially the MSMEs, during this challenging time,” he said.
In a virtual press briefing, Diokno reiterated that a new law prohibits lending institutions from charging interests on loans, fees and charges including late payment fees on all loan payments falling due within the lockdown.
Diokno said the relief measures cover all loans including salary, personal, housing and motor vehicle loans, credit card payments, as well as loans covered by post-dated checks, auto-debit or auto-deduct arrangements extended by all BSP supervised financial institutions irrespective of place of operation.
With the implementation of modified enhanced community quarantine in certain regions, he said lending institutions are told to implement a 30-day grace period for all loan payments with principal and interest falling due within the lockdown.
An additional 30-day grace period for loan accounts that qualified for an initial 30-day grace period with new due date falling within the modified quarantine without incurring interest on loans, penalties, fees and other charges is also necessary.
Citing the implementing rules and regulations of the law, the BSP clarified that interest accrued during the mandatory grace period under the lockdown would still be collected.
Said interest, however, may be paid in lump sum on the new due date or on a staggered basis over the remaining term of the loan.