Legal Updates for April 2020

DOLE Suspends Alien Employment Permit Processing and Allows Deferment of Payment of Holiday Pay for April 2020

In light of the enhanced community quarantine ("ECQ") implemented in the Luzon Region due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) suspended the processing and issuance of alien employment permits (AEP) and allowed employers to defer the payment of holiday pay to employees.  The ECQ was implemented on 16 March 2020 and would be in effect until 30 April 2020.  On 24 April 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced another extension of the ECQ in high-risk areas which include Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the CALABARZON Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), the island of Cebu, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City, among other areas until 15 May 2020.

DFA, BI Suspend Transactions Due to Enhanced Community Quarantine

In view of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Department of Foreign Affairs ("DFA") and the Bureau of Immigration ("BI") imposed a suspension on certain visa-related transactions.

BIR Eases Procedures and Provides Reliefs Including those that are Related to Needed Healthcare Equipment in View of the ECQ

The Bureau of Internal Revenue ("BIR") has extended deadlines, suspended assessment and collection of deficiency taxes, and exempted the importation of needed healthcare equipment or materials from certain taxes and duties in view of the Enhanced Community Quarantine ("ECQ") imposed by the Philippine government in response to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.  The quarantine was announced in the evening of 16 March 2020 and was scheduled to end on 30 April 2020.  On 24 April 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte announced another extension of the ECQ in high-risk areas which include Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the CALABARZON Region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), the island of Cebu, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City, among other areas until 15 May 2020.

Company Registration and Transactions with the SEC During the Period of Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") adopted guidelines as a response to the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) all over Luzon by reason of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Most transactions with the SEC, which include applications for company registration and submission of required reports, can be made online.

Imposition of Price Freeze and Enumeration of Establishments Allowed to Operate during the Period of Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Department of Trade and Industry issued various circulars in line with the Philippine government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These circulars address various measures taken by the government including the imposition of price freeze or price control, measures against panic buying and hoarding, and granting of grace period for rent due on residential and commercial leases.  The circulars also address the movement of cargo and transit of personnel of business establishments allowed to operate during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) declared under the Memorandum issued by the Executive Secretary on 16 March 2020. 

Philippine Legislature Grants the President Temporary Emergency Powers to Combat COVID-19 Outbreak

On 8 March 2020, the President of the Philippines declared a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines due to COVID-19. Following the continued rise of COVID-19 cases, the President, on 16 March 2020, declared a State of Calamity throughout the Philippines  and imposed an Enhance Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) throughout Luzon from 17 March 2020 until 12 April 2020, which was subsequently extended until 30 April 2020. 

The imposition of the ECQ resulted in the suspension of all classes, prohibition of mass gatherings, observance of strict home quarantine in all households with the exception of accessing basic necessities, closure of private establishments except those providing basic necessities, and suspension of mass public transport, among others.

PCC Suspends Merger Process and Timelines Due to Enhanced Community Quarantine

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has suspended certain activities in view of the enhanced community quarantine imposed by the Philippine government in response to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. The quarantine was announced in the evening of 16 March  2020, and is currently scheduled to end on 14 April 2020.