Condone loans, utility dues during quarantine
Consumers and debtors greatly affected by the COVID-19 crisis should urgently call on government to remove the burden of paying their water and power bills incurred under the quarantine by realigning the national budget allocations to pay for these instead.
Water and power companies, on the other hand, should appreciably reduce the rates to be paid after the quarantine, when most of us senior citizens, persons with disabilities, solo parents, wage earners, freelancers, small/middle-income earners, and other taxpayers would still be reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
Banks, meanwhile, should (a) stop amortization payments for credit cards, housing, vehicle, and other loans falling under the period of the quarantine; and (b) lower interest rates to be applied when credit card holders shall have regained enough capability to pay, given a reasonable time after this period.
Just as government had allotted budgets for food distribution and social amelioration (which unfortunately did not reach a good segment of the needy), it could further express and more efficiently demonstrate its genuine concern for the people if it will use taxpayer money, as contained in the national budget, to cover expenses for such equally important necessities as water and electricity, perhaps even more so than solid food.
Remember the poor mother, who, having received no assistance at all and with nothing else to feed her children, excruciatingly cried out on national television: “Tubig na lang po ang aking naibibigay sa mga anak kong nagugutom (Water is all I can give my hungry children).”
Only government and big business, such as the banks and water and power companies, can fully ease the massive burden on the country’s citizens. It would not really hurt government with all its resources, much of it from taxpayer money, while big business could give more, as it benefits greatly from Mother Nature’s resources meant for us all, like water and sunlight, and all of her wealth, including human resources.
Meanwhile, as the ill effects of global warming and climate change intensify, we ask government, the water and power companies, and banks to seriously carry out ecological ways to protect and not displace communities, as they provide adequate water, power, financial and other services.
For water companies: Fill up reservoirs such as through community and countryside planting and reforestation, rain harvesting, small water-impounding dams and the like.
For power companies: Seriously and aggressively fast-track the nationwide implementation of renewable sources of energy, such as solar power in every house, establishment, and community. For banks: Stop loan amortization payments falling under the quarantine, and later, after a reasonable period from the quarantine’s lifting, reduce interest rates.
Consumers have always paid for water and power services pegged at rates not in accord with the fact that citizens have the right as human beings, and not merely as clients of private businesses, to adequate and clean water, as well as a continuing supply of energy and power.
Credit card, housing, vehicles, and other loan payments have kept banks in brisk business. Business depends on the consumers’ purchasing power, ability to pay taxes, and their overall condition of good health to enable them to work and earn income to have some savings, deposit these in the banks, or be qualified to apply for loans — while the banks invest their clients’ hard-earned deposits or payments on profitable ventures, and even grant behest loans to one or two or a few, perhaps with the blessings of the powers-that-be.
Business would best thrive in an ecologically sound environment, with a sustainable and robust economy, and with readiness at greatly minimizing disasters or another plague. The Filipino people now badly need government’s and big business’ genuine concern and compassion for us all.
We appeal to the President, the rest of the executive branch of government, all progressive and concerned lawmakers, and big business to heed this call.
* * *
Joey C. Papa ([email protected]) is president of Bangon Kalikasan Movement/Ecology Centers.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.