Sunday, March 1, 2015

300 Dagupanenos victimized by lending scam

Reprinted from
The online news portal of TV5
DAGUPAN CITY -- A city councilor believes violence was averted in Dagupan City when the city government stepped in and prevented the mass arrest of some 300 loan borrowers believed to have been victimized by a lending firm that loaned them amounts at very usurious interest.
Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo accompanied the borrowers who could not pay their loans to the National 
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to dialogue with the parties who extended them loans and who sent them 
demand letters for having defaulted in the payment of their loans.
The loan was extended by the SS Marketing Inc. with office address at Cerezo Apartment in Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan which offered to lend money to members of the urban poor of Sitios Bagong Barrio, 
Sabangan, Tondaligan and Sapang Bato in Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City.
But as a condition to availing such loan, the borrowers must take some home items like pillows, curtains, mosquito nets, thermos bottles and others whose cost will be added to their loans.
Councilor Tamayo, a lawyer, who is representing the 
loan borrowers, said he was elated that the representatives of the lending firm agreed to hold all warrants of arrests provided that the borrowers will pay their loans. They also agreed to waive the interest provided the borrowers pay the principal.
But some of the borrowers who defaulted in paying their loan are now cowering in fear due to threats 

on their lives by persons who they believed to be are agents or assets of the NBI who are accompanying collectors of a lending company that gave them loans, said Tamayo, a lawyer.
The lending scheme was bared in details during a committee hearing conducted Friday by the committee on information of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) headed by Tamayo where the borrowers again cried about the mass deception made on them by SSMI.
Some of them said they recently received demand letters and some were issued with warrants of arrest purportedly coming from Talavera, Nueva Ecija after being charged with the case of estafa for 

non-payment of their loans that is supposed to be paid to SSMI at the rate of from P120 to P200 a month for 40 days.
One in fact died of heart attack and another committed suicide due to threats that they will be arrested 

and detained if they could not pay their loan of a few thousand pesos but which now ballooned to several thousand pesos, including interests.
The demand letter was signed by one Santiago Maligson Jr. who in his complaint to the court in Talavera, Nueva Ecija made it appear that the respondents signed a contract of trust agreement with SSMI in Talavera although what they believed was only a contract of loan and was signed by them in their respective residences.
In their complaint to the NBI, they accused Maligson of lying to the court when he made it appear that they (borrowers) traveled as far as Talavera, Nueva Ecija to obtain the loan from the company although they did not leave their village.
Joan Macay, president of Bagong Barrio Residents Association, told newsmen that what she and the rest of the borrowers signed were just a small ledger and not a contract of trust agreement being claimed by Maligson.
"This is a big scam that has victimized our poor residents of Dagupan and we are glad that representatives of the company softened up and agreed to collect only the principal with the exception of the interest following a meeting with their borrowers at the NBI district office in Dagupan Friday morning," said Tamayo.
The parties will again meet at the NBI office on March 30.
Their first meeting was set by Mayor Belen Fernandez who called Atty. Normal Tolosa, the local NBI chief, on Thursday asking his help because it was being mentioned by the residents who borrowed money from the lending company that some of his people are going around with collectors of the company, armed and with the uniformed of the agency, telling borrowers of the lending firm to now pay their loan or something will happen to them.
In fact, Fernandez found out that one resident by the name of Maria Dianan, who is pregnant, who had a warrant of arrest, was arrested for the crime of estafa and detained at the NBI cell since Feb. 11. Her common-law-husband Danny Sanosa told the mayor she remained detained for her failure to post a bail bond for her temporary liberty in the amount of P10,000.
In an earlier privilege speech in the city council Tuesday, Tamayo initially denounced the scam and called the city council to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation.

All of the borrowers shared the same experience of borrowing money from P3,000 to P5,000 and before the amount is released, they must take the different home items being given to them which will be added to their loan and pay the principal plus the cost of the items with an interest of up to 25 percent or even higher and must pay these all within 40 days.
The secretary of Bonuan Gueset has certified that they did not issue any business clearance to SSMI while the company said to be represented by Rosemarie Vidal and Santiago Maligson Jr. did not appear in the list of business establishments given business permit by the One-Stop-Business Center.
Assistant City Legal Officer Roy Laforteza said his office has verified that SMMI has not applied for business name registration with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and therefore is bogus and operating illegally and must be closed.
Moreover, Laforteza said that if it is true that NBI personnel or their agents were being used to collect the loan amounts from the borrowers, then they are doing the illegal thing because that is not part of their mandate.

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