While Vice President and Secretary of Education Sara Duterte said she is looking forward to partnering with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to solve teachers’ loan obligations and contracts, Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the passage of a measure that prohibits unfair and abusive debt collection practices.
Gatchalian’s Senate Bill No. 818 or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides that a debt collector shall not engage in any conduct to harass, oppress, or abuse any debtor in the collection of a debt. Under the bill, prohibited measures in relation to the collection of debt include the use or threat of violence, use of obscene or profane language, and the disclosure, publication or posting of borrowers’ names.
The measure also prohibits a debt collector from using any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means to collect a debt. These include, among others, the representation that the non-payment of any debt will result in arrest or imprisonment, the use of threat to take any action that cannot be legally taken, and the false implication that the borrower committed any crime.
Gatchalian’s proposed measure also provides that any agreement entered into by the debtor and debt collector shall be deemed void if it is misleading. The agreement will also be deemed void if it misrepresents the rights and powers of a person collecting the debt and the obligations or legal liabilities of a debtor.
“Kailangang wakasan natin ang mga pang-aabusong may kinalaman sa pangongolekta ng utang. Nakakabahala na ang ating mga guro ang lubos na naaapektuhan ng ganitong mga pang-aabuso, kaya naman kailangan nating tiyakin na mabibigyan natin sila ng kaukulang proteksyon at maitataguyod natin ang kanilang kapakanan,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
To further uphold the welfare of teachers, Gatchalian is also planning to file a measure that will amend the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers (Republic Act No. 4670). Since almost 57 years have passed since the law’s enactment, Gatchalian pressed the need to make it more responsive to teachers’ present-day challenges.