Gatchalian to SEC: Fast track creation of new office vs. abusive and illegal lenders

Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to fast track the creation of a new office that will deal solely on the regulation and monitoring of financing and lending firms and pursue without letting up its crackdown against abusive and illegal lenders.

Branding as laudable the SEC’s efforts as it came ahead of the impending passage of the proposed Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act, which Gatchalian co-authored in the Senate, the senator said victims of unfair debt collection practices can now expect prompt action on their complaints against abusive and fraudulent schemes of collection agencies.

“Even in the absence of a law that will give more teeth to the powers of financial regulators to enable them to perform acts necessary for the protection of financial consumers, preparatory works are already being put in place as in the case of the SEC,” the re-electionist senator said, referring to the reported creation of the Financing and Lending Companies Division within the SEC.

Gatchalian could attest to the volume of complainants of various online companies and lending apps as his office received over 20,000 complaints last year from those who have been subjected to grave threats, intimidation, public-shaming and other unfair and abusive debt collection practices.

“Nakarating sa aking kaalaman na may mga biktima ng mga online lending companies na nagawa pang magpatiwakal dala ng kahihiyan at matinding mental stress dulot ng pananakot sa kanilang buhay dahil sa kanilang lumulobong utang. Karamihan sa kanila ay kumapit sa patalim at nangutang sa mga kumpanyang ito sa gitna ng pandemya sa loob ng nakaraang dalawang taon,” he said.

“These incidents clearly necessitate legislative intervention as existing laws would not suffice in bringing justice or at least provide immediate and efficient avenues for redress to consumers,” Gatchalian added.

In addition to administrative sanctions, imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than five years or a fine of P50,000 up to P2 million or both will be slapped against any person who violates the provisions of the bill or any related rules, regulators, orders or instructions issued by the financial regulators.

The proposed penalties are more stringent compared to what is being imposed by the SEC under Memorandum Circular 18 series of 2019, which sets fine ranging from P25,000 to P1 million and suspension or revocation of the certificate of authority to operate as a financing or lending company for those found to have committed abusive, deceptive and unfair collection practices.

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SEC madaliin ang pagtatatag ng opisina laban sa mga iligal na kumpanyang nagpapautang — Gatchalian

Dapat madaliin ng Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ang pagtatatag ng tanggapang tututok sa regulasyon at susubaybay sa mga financing at lending firms upang agarang matugunan ang mga reklamo laban sa mga mapang-abuso at tiwaling gawain ng mga kumpanyang nag-aalok ng mga pautang, sabi ni Senador Win Gatchalian.

Ang pagsisikap ng SEC na magtayo ng bago nitong upisina ay kasabay ng inaasahang pagsasabatas ng panukalang Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act, kung saan co-author si Gatchalian sa Senado, na layong protektahan ang mga konsyumer laban sa mga hindi makatarungang paraan ng paniningil ng mga collection agencies.

Mismong si Gatchalian ay makapagpapatunay sa lawak at sa dami ng nagrereklamo sa iba’t ibang online lending companies at lending apps dahil ang opisina nya ay nagmistulang sumbungan ng mga biktima at umabot sa higit sa 20,000 ang reklamong idinulog sa kanya noong nakaraang taon na may kinalaman sa pagbabanta, pananakot, panghihiya at iba pang hindi makatarungan at mapang-abusong mga gawi sa pangongolekta ng utang.

“Nakarating sa aking kaalaman na may mga biktima ng mga online lending companies na nagawa pang magpatiwakal dala ng kahihiyan at matinding mental stress dulot ng pananakot sa kanilang buhay dahil sa kanilang lumolobong utang. Karamihan sa kanila ay kumapit sa patalim at nangutang sa mga kumpanyang ito sa gitna ng pandemya sa oob ng nakaraang dalawang taon,” sabi ni Gatchalian.

“Ang mga insidenteng ito ay malinaw na nangangailangan ng legislative intervention dahil ang mga umiiral na batas ay hindi sapat sa pagbibigay ng hustisya o agarang mga paraan para matugunan ang mga idinudulog ng mga konsyumer,” dagdag pa niya.

Bukod sa parusang administratibo, ang sinumang lumabag sa naturang panukalang batas ay pagmumultahin ng P50,000 hanggang P2 milyon at ipakukulong ng hindi bababa sa isang taon at hindi hihigit sa limang taon. Nasa P25,000 hanggang P1 milyon lamang ang kasalukuyang ipinapataw na parusa laban sa mga financing o lending company sakaling napatunayang nakagawa ang mga ito ng mapang-abuso, mapanlinlang at hindi patas na paraan ng pangongolekta.

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