Duterte warns landlords, lessors vs evicting tenants amid COVID-19 crisis

Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 09 2020 02:19 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte early Thursday warned landlords and lessors against evicting tenants and lessees amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced most workers and businessmen to stop their normal operations and leading to loss of income.

Duterte said in a press briefing that landlords and lessors should not pressure their renters and lessees since the ongoing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and other places due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has affected work and businesses.

"'Do not tempt the gods. Kasi pag 'di ito naayos, itong COVID-19, mapurnada tayong lahat. 'Wag ninyong madaliin," he said.

The President said COVID-19 global pandemic might continue to affect the country for two years, and by that time, no one might be around to collect anything..

"Maghintay kayo [lessors], nagpaparenta, huwag ninyo madaliin. Kasi baka wala tayo, wala ka na magkolekta. You're not even sure if you're still around to collect the money," Duterte said.

He said evictions, whether residential or commercial in nature, might lead to riots and legal proceedings, which might be a problem since the justice department and the Supreme Court have suspended their work.

The President added he will personally see to it that tenants who were evicted will get their lease back.

"'Pag i-evict mo yung tao ngayon sa bahay, sabihin ko talaga sa [kanya], 'P**a, 'wag mo sundin 'yan.' Ako nagwa-warning lang ako. Pipilitin niyo 'di makabayad, ang pamilya itapon niyo, sarhan niyo ng bahay...sabihin ko, 'Buksan ninyo yung bahay. Papasok mo ulit pamilya mo,'" Duterte said.

The Philippines earlier released guidelines for a 30-day moratorium on residential and commercial rent for small businesses to ensure that no one will lose their home or place of livelihood due to the ECQ.

The 30-day grace period will be counted from the last due date that falls within the lockdown, the Department of Trade and Industry said. 

The ECQ was initially scheduled to end on April 12 but was later extended to April 30.

Cumulative rent that needs to be paid within the quarantine period must be amortized equally in the 6 months following the end of the said period without charges, it said.

Paid residential and commercial rent during the lockdown will not be refunded but lessors should grant a minimum 30-day grace period from the next due date, it said.

“No Filipinos should lose their residence during the ECQ period. Moreover, the importance of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in jumpstarting our economy once the ECQ has been lifted cannot be understated,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez had said. --With a report from Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News