Legal Updates for October 2020

FDA Updates: Use of Electronic Means of Prescription for Drugs and Registration of Drug Products under Emergency Use

With the enactment of Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act ("Bayanihan Act 2") and the periodic changes on the quarantine status of different localities, the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") reissued and extended its existing guidelines on: (i) the implementation of the use of electronic means of prescription for drugs; and (ii) the registration of drug products under emergency use ("DEU") for COVID-19.

Philippines Eases Stay-at-Home and Travel Restrictions

On 15 October 2020, the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases ("IATF") issued Resolution No. 79 amending the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines ("Omnibus Guidelines"). 

The key changes brought about by the amendments in the Omnibus Guidelines include adjusting the age-based stay-at-home restrictions whereby only persons under fifteen (15) years of age and those over sixty-five (65) years shall remain inside their residences at all times, subject to some exceptions. In addition, interzonal and intrazonal movement of persons not authorised outside of residences between or across areas (i) placed under General Community Quarantine and Modified General Community Quarantine ("MGCQ") and (ii) placed under MGCQ and areas not placed under any form of community quarantine, shall now be allowed subject to reasonable regulations imposed by the local government units ("LGUs") concerned. 

Effective 21 October 2020, non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos shall be allowed, provided certain requirements are fulfilled.


SC Issues Guidelines on the Implementation of the Hague Service Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial Documents

Following the Philippines’ accession to the Hague Service Convention, the Supreme Court issued the Guidelines on the Implementation in the Philippines of the Hague Service Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial Documents (“Guidelines”).  The Guidelines took effect on 1 October 2020.

The Guidelines govern the service of judicial documents in civil or commercial matters, and cover requests for extraterritorial service of judicial documents from the Philippines to another state party (“Outbound Request”) and from another state party to the Philippines (“Inbound Request”).  

PCC Issues Rules for the Implementation of Provisions from “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” Relating to the Review of Mergers and Acquisitions

On 24 September 2020, the Philippine Competition Commission (“PCC”) issued its “Rules for the Implementation of Section 4(eee) of Republic Act No. 11494, otherwise known as the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act’, Relating to the Review of Mergers and Acquisitions”. The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act is a new law meant as a recovery measure for the Philippines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It took effect on 15 September 2020.

Bayanihan to Recover as One Act Signed into Law

On 11 September 2020, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11494, entitled “An Act Providing for COVID-19 Response and Recovery Interventions and Providing Mechanisms to Accelerate the Recovery and Bolster the Resiliency of the Philippine Economy, Providing Funds Therefor, and for other Purposes” (“Bayanihan Act 2”).  The Bayanihan Act 2 took effect on 15 September 2020 and will be enforced until 19 December 2020.  The law aims to further mitigate the economic losses and enhance the financial stability of the country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

BSP and SEC Issue Guidelines to Implement Mandatory Grace Period for all Loans Pursuant to Bayanihan to Recover as One Act

Republic Act No. 11494, otherwise known as the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act”, prescribes a mandatory one-time 60-day grace period for the payment of all existing, current, and outstanding loans falling due, or any part thereof, on or before December 31, 2020, in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 situation. 

In this regard, both the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (“BSP”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) released guidelines to implement this measure.  The guidelines are addressed to all BSP-supervised financial institutions, as well as financing companies, lending companies, and microfinance non-governmental organizations under the SEC Corporate Governance and Finance Department’s jurisdiction (collectively, the “financial institutions”). These guidelines provide that the grace period shall apply to each loan, whether the borrower has a single loan or multiple loans with the institution.