By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

CORPORATE regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and local bourse operator Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. (PSE) are easing rules and requirements to adjust to mitigation efforts against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The SEC approved a memorandum circular last week extending the deadline for disclosure of annual reports for publicly listed companies until June 30.

The new deadline applies to companies that have domestic operations only. For those that also have foreign operations, companies may submit until June 30, or 60 days from the date of lifting of travel restrictions, whichever comes later.

The filing period for quarterly reports will also adjust.

However, companies that are not affected by the COVID-19 in the preparation of financial statements “are required to file their annual reports and/or (audited financial statements) for the year ended 31 December 2019 within the periods prescribed under the existing rules and regulations.”

SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said the measure is to accommodate companies that are challenged to comply with requirements because of the virus outbreak.

“For one, the travel restrictions, suspension of business operations and other measures implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19 have kept companies, particularly those with operations in China and other affected territories, from gathering all information or documents necessary in the preparation and the subsequent audit of their annual financial statements,” he said in a statement.

In the event that the given period is still not enough, companies may request for an extension through a written letter to the SEC at least five days before the deadline.

“The SEC will continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the preparation of financial statements and on the completion of the statutory audits of companies. It may issue appropriate rules and regulations to address the concerns that may further arise,” it said.

The PSE issued a similar memorandum yesterday echoing the decision of the SEC. But it noted that despite this, companies must continuously disclose other material information on a timely basis.

In a separate announcement, the PSE adjusted the cut-off for corporate disclosures at the Electronic Disclosure Generation Technology (EDGE) platform. Companies must now disclose material transactions by 1:30 p.m. Anything later than this will be posted on the EDGE portal the following day.

This early deadline will be in place until April 14, in line with the shortened trading hours at the stock market that started yesterday. From today until April 14, the market will open at 9 a.m. and close at 1 p.m., “consistent with the COVID-19 preventive measures implemented by the government.”

The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) is likewise cutting its foreign exchange hours due to the government’s community quarantine in Metro Manila. Starting today until further notice, BAP foreign exchange markets will be open at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the morning and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the afternoon.