TRANSPORTATION Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has ordered the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to hand over in advance P10 billion worth of dividends to the government by Friday.

Mr. Tugade said the funds will be support government initiatives against the COVID-19 outbreak and other projects.

“Secretary Tugade gave the order during his meeting with aviation sector officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) at the CAAP’s Civil Aviation Training Center where he led a strategic analysis session to map out continuing measures for the country’s aviation sector during the ongoing enhanced community quarantine being enforced in Luzon,” the DOTr said in a statement Wednesday.

PPA is set to hand over P4 billion while MIAA and CAAP will be remitting P3 billion each. They will have to remit their respective dividends to the Department of Finance (DoF) by Friday, the DOTr said.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran said those agencies “usually” remit their dividends on the 15th of May.

Mr. Tugade has also instructed MIAA and CAAP to suspend rentals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for the current month and defer collection of such charges for the following month.

Libre ‘yung renta starting March 15 to April 15. ‘Yung April 16 to May 16, deferred payment, so June na babayaran ‘yun (Rent is free between March 15 and April 15. The payment for April 16 to May 16 is to be deferred to June),” Ms. Libiran said.

Mr. Tugade said the “rent holiday” and the deferral for airport concessionaires are “immediately executory.”

“Such moves are now needed to cushion the economic impact of COVID-19 on the country’s aviation industry and its stakeholders,” the DOTr noted.

The government announced an initial P27.1 billion economic stimulus package to help sectors affected by COVID-19. Congress has approved a measure that will allow President Rodrigo R. Duterte to realign savings from the 2020 budgets of agencies under the Executive branch.

To mitigate the impact of the government-imposed community quarantine in Luzon and other parts of the country, the National Economic and Development Authority said the government could provide regulatory relief through emergency funds or loans and amelioration funds to the travel and tourism sector as well as other affected businesses. — Arjay L. Balinbin