THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is requiring financing and lending companies and microfinance non-government organizations to extend the 30-day grace period for loans due within the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period, covering those payments due when ECQ was extended to April 30.

In a notice on its website, the corporate regulator said the extension of the ECQ over Luzon until the end of the month should be considered by lenders in adjusting debt collection schedules.

“[T]he initial 30-day grace period for the payment of loans… shall apply to all loans with principal and/or interest falling due within the extended ECQ period, from March 17 to April 30,” it said.

Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act calls for a minimum 30-day grace period for loan payments during quarantine as assistance to the public during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

The SEC issued a notice on April 2 ordering lenders to observe the law for all loans due from March 17 to April 12 — the initial period of the ECQ.

On April 7, the government decided to extend the ECQ period until midnight of April 30 after deciding that the lockdown had yet to contain the outbreak.

The extended ECQ prompted the SEC to call on lenders to likewise adjust their implementation of the 30-day grace period for borrowers.

In a separate advisory, the SEC said it has been receiving reports that some lenders refused to comply with the policy.

“The commission advises the public that it takes every report and complaint seriously. Accordingly, a number of (financing and lending companies) are already being investigated for possible violation of the law…,” it said.

Several lending and financing companies have previously announced extended loan payment deadlines in view of the quarantine: BDO Unibank, Inc.; Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co.; Bank of the Philippine Islands; Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.; Union Bank of the Philippines; East West Banking Corp.; China Banking Corp.; CIMB Bank Philippines; and Philippine Savings Bank. — Denise A. Valdez