Senator Win Gatchalian has slammed the practice of “utang tagging,” a policy where professionals, including teachers, with pending administrative cases are prevented from renewing their Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) licenses.
While the policy has been suspended by the PRC, Gatchalian reiterated the need to protect teachers from unfair debt collection practices. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education denounced how teachers’ licenses were hostaged because of their non-payment of loans.
“Hindi natin dapat iniipit ang lisensya ng ating mga guro dahil sa kanilang pagkakautang. Ang ganitong klase ng panggigipit at pang-aabuso sa ating mga guro ay hindi dapat natin pinalalagpas. Tungkulin nating protektahan at itaguyod ang kapakanan ng mga guro na marami nang isinasakripisyo para sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon,” said Gatchalian.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Partylist Representative France Castro earlier floated the possibility that loan sharks with connections to the PRC may be behind the ‘utang tagging’ scheme. According to the partylist lawmaker, affected teachers have loans from lending schemes that carry exorbitant interest rates and are not accredited by the Department of Education (DepEd).
Gatchalian meanwhile pressed for the passage of Senate Bill No. 818 or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Under the proposed measure, a debt collector shall not engage in any conduct that will harass, oppress, or abuse any debtor in connection with the collection of a debt. The use or threat of violence; disclosure, publication, or posting of names and other personal information of the borrowers; and the use of obscene or profane language; among others are prohibited under Gatchalian’s proposed measure.
The proposed measure also provides that a debt collector shall not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. It also prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.