Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre revealed that the administration of President Duterte will run after Indian nationals engaged in the “5-6” lending business. Aguirre said the President has instructed cabinet members to clamp down on the usurious lending scheme preying on struggling and small-time entrepreneurs, and that Duterte wants those Indians engaged in such business arrested by police and deported.
The Justice Department Chief explained that Indian nationals can be arrested even in the absence of a warrant from courts because such offense is considered a continuing crime. He also added that these Indians have not paid taxes to the government from their illegal lending business which has preyed on many Filipinos.
Although Aguirre admitted that the 5-6 scheme where the allegedly Indian lenders impose a 20 percent interest per month on their borrowers is not exactly illegal following the suspension of the usury law and the removal of interest ceilings, the crackdown will continue.
Lenders imposing excessive interest rates have indeed become a problem for many Filipinos who do not have access to financing options and it is about time the government impose a crackdown in order to put an end to the practice, as well as put in place a proper micro-lending program to provide small business with lending facilities that charge reasonable interest rates. With regards to this pressing concern, the Department of Trade and Industry is formulating a scheme to extend soft loans to small businessmen with an interest rate of 20 percent per year.
It would certainly benefit many Filipinos if our government can clamp down on the “5-6” lending scheme and provide viable alternatives but our government officials, particularly Secretary Aguirre and President Duterte, might want to tone down the racism and negative stereotypes against Indian nationals because, while it may be true that some of them engage in the abhorrent business, not all of them do, and everyone knows that not all 5-6 lenders are Indian nationals. The irresponsible use of racist language and bigoted messaging by government officials may appeal to the masses, but it unnecessarily alienates and endangers the members of the Indian community who have been contributing to the growth, development and diversity of our society by engaging in honest and legitimate businesses in our country.*