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Senator pushes 'three-gives' installment for utility bills 

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Senator Francis Tolentino filed a bill seeking to institutionalize installment payment schemes for utility bills during a state of calamity

Tolentino filed Senate Bill No. 1473, dubbed as the "Three-Gives Law," seeking to allow the staggered payment of electric, water, and telephone bills which were consumed during the enhanced community quarantine and other similar circumstances.

"It is the intent of this measure to uphold the general welfare of the people and to assist their economic well-being immediately after the occurrence of natural or man-made calamities or health epidemic," Tolentino said.

"Malaki ang maitutulong nito sa mga kababayan natin na lubhang naapektuhan ng COVID-19, lalo na iyong mga nawalan ng hanapbuhay at pagkakakitaan," he added.

Last month, the Energy Regulatory Commission approved the four-month staggered payment of electricity bills that fall within the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) assured its customers that it will abide with the directive. Since meter reading has been suspended amid the strict quarantine protocols, customers will be billed based on their average three-month consumption.

Water concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company Inc., on the other hand, suspended their meter-reading activities. Customers would also be billed based on their average consumption for the past three months. Any difference versus actual consumption during the quarantine period would be adjusted once the normal billing procedures resume.

An enhanced community quarantine has been placed over the entire Luzon from March 17 to April 30. The implementation of the same protocol was extended until May 15 in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and other high-risk provinces.

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