Baguio decrees rent holiday for firms closed during quarantine
BAGUIO CITY –– Businesses shuttered by the quarantine, including tourism-oriented enterprises, will enjoy a rent holiday and other financial reprieve measures enacted by the City Council.
An ordinance, passed on May 18 and signed into law by Mayor Benjamin Magalong on May 22, compels building owners to stop collecting lease or rent obligations from tenants unable to operate because of lockdown restrictions.
This covers businesses that were crippled from March to May, the duration of an extended quarantine covering Luzon, and when their operations are still deemed unnecessary during a transition phase while no cure for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been developed.
A Baguio transition plan placed businesses like entertainment and tourism enterprises at the bottom of its priorities but has set in motion several measures to aid displaced workers.
“The city government needs to take an aggressive action through social and remedial legislation to provide relief for those sectors, directly and indirectly, affected [by the quarantine],” according to a City Council statement that quotes the rent holiday ordinance.
The City Council asserts: “The ordinance stipulates that stalls within the city market (which were) permitted to operate during the enhanced community quarantine and allowed to resume operations during the general community quarantine shall settle their unpaid rentals for March, April, and May, while those that did not operate shall not be obliged to pay rentals.”
“Business owners with lease contracts with the city shall pay their accumulated rentals for March, April, and May in three equal installments starting June 30 to be added to the rental due for the month,” it adds.
Building owners are required to provide City Hall with a report detailing how they complied with the ordinance.
Another measure signed into law on May 14 relaxes rules for business and real property taxes by waiving penalties for delayed payments once residents and business owners fulfill their obligations on June 30.
But this law covers only payments, which were delayed by the extended Luzon quarantine, and not overdue taxes, which were not paid before the lockdown.
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