Community Whispers by Ray Junia
Community Whispers

Pass Financial Consumer Protection Act ASAP!

Jul 27, 2021, 12:16 AM
Ray L. Junia

Ray L. Junia

Publisher

FOR a country that for decades had dreamt of winning a gold medal at the world Olympics, even small victories in that journey for the gold is celebrated.

So Team Philippines cheered for the victory albeit in the qualifying round of our rower, Cris Nievarez, from the Quezon province.

The other reason for the celebration was Cris is the first Filipino rower to have qualified to the quarterfinals.

The Philippines is gunning for at least 1 gold medal from the 19 athletes who qualified for the Games.

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Something interesting is happening in the financial sector in our country.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), together with other regulatory bodies in the corporate world, is pushing for the early passage of a law that will protect financial consumers - the Financial Consumer Protection Act.

The proposed law covers all financial products and services, and will institutionalize consumer protection standards.

It will also promote transparent and responsible pricing, client privacy and client data protection.

To achieve these objectives, the law empowers regulators to issue rules and regulations that will ensure consumer protection, conduct hearings on consumer complaints and impose restrictions on unreasonable rates of interests, fees and other charges.

The law also orders regulators to take action against institutions undermining consumer confidence.

This law could not have come at a better time, as the country faces challenges over the rapid changes in this sector brought about by the fast growing digitalization in financial transactions.

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That BSP is spearheading this move towards consumer protection is a relief, as rising complaints over abuses by financing companies are eroding people’s confidence on the government’s ability to protect their interests.

Consumer protection in the Philippines is more of a lip service by the government.

I was talking to a lawyer who educated me on the reasons consumer complaints never make it even to first base in the process to achieve justice for the aggrieved.

The system is loaded against the complainant, he said referring to why aggrieved parties would not proceed with their complaints.

The filing fee in bringing the case to court is too steep, there is the added cost in the litigation.

These two costs alone are enough reasons to discourage parties to go to the courts.

And this situation has encouraged crooks to do what they want.

There are laws that promise consumers’ protection. When the implementing rules and regulators are passed, that very law becomes the weapon to abuse consumers.

By the way, from those who are running for a seat in Congress in next year’s election, may I ask, how many are pushing for consumers’ protection?

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On elections, two and half months before the deadline in filing of Certificate of Candidacy (CoC), it is getting clearer who are running for what position.

Now the Senate “fraternity” of Lacson, Sotto and Honasan, has made public their line up down to the senators.

While the Nationalist People’s Coalition of Lacson and Sotto is making clearer to the people its plans, the administration party of PDP-Laban is mired in intra-party war.

The intramural in the administration party is causing a big image problem.


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