Some Capitol employees burdened by coop loans

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BENIGNO Oppus, a 61-year-old Capitol employee, does not receive a single centavo from his salary at the end of the month.

The government worker of 11 years said he “advanced” his salary from the CFI Community Cooperative Inc. weeks ago due to an urgent need.

Whatever is left of his salary is just enough to pay his monthly contribution to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

“Negative man gani na karon akong balance didto sa co-op. Gi-advance nako ug loan kay nagkinahanglan man ug kwarta ,” he told Cebu Daily News.

(My balance in the co-op is negative. I borrowed against my salary because I needed money)

Oppus is one of more than a thousand employees in the Capitol who borrow money and availed of benefits from the co-op closely identified with the Garcias.

“Natuok gyud mi kay mag sige man ug loan,” he said.

(We are in a tight financial situation because of our loans.)

Most of what he borrows from the CFI co-op goes to the school expenses of his four children. One child recently graduated with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, while another is enrolled in Business Administration courses at a private university with the help of the co-op’s loan.

As the Provincial Board (PB) reviews its 1987 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the coop and studies the possibility of cutting off ties, member employees like Oppus could be affected.

If that happens, CFI will lose its authority to deduct loan payments directly from its members’ payrolls. Employes would have to voluntarily deliver loan payments to the co-op’s office in the CFI building in the Capitol compound.

Control

A department head who requested anonymity said favors the province’s proposal since it will free them from the “control” of the coop.

He said most of the employees turn to the coop for loans but suffer from “high interest rates.”

“Sakit sa coop pataka lang bill pero wa mi mahimo kay diretso man sa ilaha. Kontrolado kaayo mi.” he said

(The problem with the coop is that they arbitrarily charge us, but we can’t do anything since its direct to them. We’re so controlled.)

The head said their loans are charged two percent interest per month. Aside from that, the coop charges another one percent on the loan principal.

The statement was contrary to the statement of retired judge and CFI founder Esperanza Garcia who said the coop has an interest rate of one percent per month or 12 percent per annum.

“I will stand for the truth. Those rates are not true,” the department head said.

Aside from receiving annual dividends, a P300,000 bereavement benefit is also given to the family of a member who dies.

The coop holds office in its own 10-story building in the Capitol compound, and has P6.1 billion in total assets as of 2012 and over 78,000 members around the country.

It was established in 1970 by Garcia, who was a clerk of court at the Court of First Instance, with Justice Franscisco Tantuico to assist CFI employees to get out of financial problems with loan sharks. It started with 29 members and a capital of P200.

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