Don’t force people to pay rent during pandemic, Duterte tells building, property owners
DAVAO CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte called on building and property owners in the country to suspend the collection of rent from their tenants as people lose their jobs and sources of income in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Don’t force people to pay rent,” Duterte said at a Cabinet meeting here to tackle the government’s response to COVID-19, addressing property owners reportedly pressuring their tenants to pay or face eviction.
“Nagmamakaawa ako sa iyo, hwag ninyong pilitin ang mga tao, or magka-enkwentro tayo (I’m begging you, don’t force the people (to pay rent) or we will clash),” the President said.
“Whatever (money is) in the hands of people now, they’re saving that for the rainy days to come,” he added.
He warned property owners who would threaten to evict occupants who failed to pay the rent.
“Don’t pressure a poor person just because you have this right. It’s not the time for you to pressure other people,” Duterte said. “Di ako papayag (I won’t allow that). You will have to call the police because that will cause a riot.”
“Are you willing to confront the violence you created or you stay with me because I’ll make the decision for the common good?” the President said.
He said as long as no vaccine is available to protect the people against SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the current health emergency would be bound to stay.
He urged people to keep wearing masks, and to protect themselves by avoiding crowds and social distancing and frequent washing of hands.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assured the President the country remained to be in good standing among its international creditors and that the financial system still has the capacity to generate money to survive the crisis.
Duterte reiterated his earlier plan to sell government assets and properties, among them the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) or the PICC, if the government ran out of money to finance its COVID-19 response.
“Domiguez assured us we could still generate funds but what (would be) the end game, if we run out of funds? I’ll sell government assets—CCP, PICC, lands there if there’s no more money and we are about to sink, as in really sink,” the President said.
“I’ll sell the assets of the government and I will help the people,” he said.
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