PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte is calling on schools to accept staggered tuition payments to address difficulties of parents in paying for their child’s education amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

During the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Thursday night, Mr. Duterte said, “I hope that you’d allow a staggered payment or installments lang sa mga eskwelahan (in the schools).”

Widespread quarantines have been imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with classes in all levels being suspended, and much economic activity grounding to a halt. More than 2 million employees have been displaced since Mr. Duterte first imposed a Luzon-wide lockdown on March 17, according to the Labor department. Many other areas in the country were subsequently also locked down.

Mr. Duterte said parents who don’t have the financial means to settle tuition fees can choose to avail of loans from the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines.

“We have the Land Bank and kindly listen to the rules kasi itong Land Bank bubuksan namin (because Land Bank will be opened by us) and you can borrow money to finance the education of your children,” he said.

Enrolment is scheduled to begin next month. The Department of Education (DepEd) is pushing for a remote enrolment scheme to avoid physical interaction as much as possible.

Classes will begin on Aug. 24, but Mr. Duterte said in a speech last week that he is not comfortable with students going to schools while there is still no vaccine against the COVID-19 virus. — Gillian M. Cortez