Democratic Party Against Pawnbrokers Supported

The chairman of the House Labor and Employment Committee on Thursday supported the Department of Education’s (DepEd) efforts to protect teachers from being victims of loan sharks by providing them with legal and financial advice.

Rizal 4th District Rep. Fidel Nograles, chairman of the commission, made the announcement after Vice President and Education Secretary Sarah Duterte recently announced that her department was coordinating with legal groups and other institutions to provide teachers with free advice on loan agreements they might sign.

Outstanding teacher loans and accrued interest under the Government Services Insurance Scheme (GSIS) reached at least 157.4 billion pesos in 2019, according to DepEd.

“This plan by the Department of Education, led by Vice President Sarah Duterte, is a good move to protect our teachers from loan sharks and other improper forms of lending,” Nograles said.

Nograles said Duterte’s move would mean that teachers would be armed with enough knowledge before signing any loan agreement.

“Due to the current economic problems, many of our teachers are entering into loan agreements to support their daily lives or pay off their other debts. We must take steps to ensure predatory lenders do not take advantage of their vulnerability,” he said.

The Harvard-trained lawyer also said he would volunteer his services “to help our party leader succeed in her efforts.”

Nograles said he would involve his colleagues from the legal aid fund, Lakbay Khustisyaand encourage them to offer their services to teachers. Lakbai Khustisya, founded by Solon, provides free legal advice to poor prisoners.

Last December, the Department of Education also issued a memorandum barring private lenders and loan sharks not affiliated with the agency from collecting payments at designated areas for a one-time merit recognition award for public school teachers and non-teaching staff.

Teacher debt has been a longstanding problem at the agency.