Bill seeking halt in student loan payments during crisis filed in Senate
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Lito Lapid has filed a bill that would institutionalize the temporary suspension of student loan payment in times of disasters and emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic that is currently gripping the country.
Lapid filed Senate Bill No. 1538 which seeks to put a moratorium on the payment of all fees, charges and costs relating to the student loan programs for Higher Education and Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
This covers loans administered by the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) or by the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) or any other government agency and instrumentality, he explained.
“Sa panahon ng kalamidad, disaster o emergency gaya na lamang ng nararanasan nating COVID-19 pandemic, milyun-milyong Pilipino ang walang kita. Karaniwang ang prayoridad ng ating mga kababayan sa ganitong mga panahon ay pambili ng pagkain, gamot at pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan,” Lapid said in a statement on Wednesday.
(In times of calamities, disasters or emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Filipinos have lost their source of income. The priority of Filipino families in times like this is usually finding ways to afford food, medicine and daily necessities).
“Ang mga gastusin sa edukasyon gaya ng tuition o iba pang bayarin sa paaralan ay isasantabi na muna ng ilang pamilya dahil wala na silang natitirang salapi para dito. Kaya sa pamamagitan ng paglalagay ng moratorium sa students loans ay makakatulong tayo para maisalba kahit papaano ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan,” he added.
(Sourcing money for education, tuition and other fees for school are usually set aside. That’s why imposing a moratorium on the payment of student loans would really help students avail their education).
If enacted into law, the moratorium provided under the bill would cover the period the declaration of a national and local State of Calamity or Emergency up to 30 days from the termination thereof.
If the covered period exceeds a total of 60 days, the payment of the fees, charges and coasts shall be further deferred until the end of the next academic semester or term, Lapid noted.
The temporary suspension of the payment of student loans will be implemented during disasters and other kinds of emergencies which are national in scope, as declared through a State of Calamity or State of National Emergency by the President of the Philippines, and provincial, city or municipal in scope, as declared through a State of Calamity or Emergency by the appropriate local government unit, according to the measure.
The bill also protects the enrollment or graduation eligibility of a student who would avail the moratorium.
The measure, should it be signed into law, would be applied retroactively for students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Through this measure, the student loan liabilities are temporarily eased off from the minds of disaster-stricken families as they focus more on the more basic and essential daily expenses,” the bill’s explanatory note read.
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