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Sharp Edges

LGUs should activate price monitoring councils this holiday season

/ 04:04 AM December 17, 2019

Local government units (LGUs) should take a cue from Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte who reactivated the city’s price monitoring council to protect her constituents from undue price hikes, artificial food shortages, defective weighing scales and “double dead meat” this holiday season.

No offense meant but the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture are both toothless against price manipulators despite their strict monitoring.

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They continue to file in court numerous cases of violation of the Price Act but the offense is bailable and the cases take forever to resolve.

Mayors, on the other hand, can order the closure of erring businesses. They can put a stop to the activities of “food viajeros” or middlemen who profit daily from the fluctuating supply of goods from farm gate to market. These traders operate with a mayor’s wholesaler or peddler’s permit that can be canceled immediately.

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Kudos to the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for acting swiftly on complaints against “illegal online lending” firms on various mobile platforms.

These are the “quick and easy online loan mobile apps” that applicants must download, thereby authorizing access to their personal information, including contact number, Facebook account and email addresses of Facebook friends.

The information, however, can be used for “debt shaming.” Text messages are sent to contacts of the persons who took out the loan, telling them about their refusal to pay their debts. Complainants cry “invasion of privacy” and “a disruption of their peace,” a violation of the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

Some of these online companies operate without a certificate of authority from the SEC which is in violation of the Lending Company Regulation Acts of 1997 and 2007.

I was informed that some 6,000 complaints filed here and abroad by Filipino overseas workers had been submitted to the NPC. About 1,900 were formalized and the cases are now being processed.

In October, the SEC issued “cease-and-desist orders” to 48 online lending companies. The NPC on the other hand, ordered the shutdown of 26 others in coordination with the National Telecommunications Commission and Google LLC.

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Today, about 60 online lending companies were issued summons by the NPC but I’m particularly interested in the developments against the three biggest operators: Dynamics Lending Inc., Unipeso Lending Company and Fcash Global Lending Inc.

Dynamics submitted a formal reply while Unipeso and Fcash both filed motions to dismiss. Insiders in the NPC say a decision is coming out very soon.

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It is now clear that malls are the major cause of heavy traffic on Edsa and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (HPG) cannot do anything about the situation.

SM Megamall, for instance, clogs northbound Edsa traffic all the way from Magallanes and Guadalupe, aggravated by vehicles coming from Poveda and sometimes, La Salle Green Hills. Also, traffic flow toward SM North Edsa and Trinoma is getting heavier every day.

And quite sadly, we are seeing fewer MMDA or PNP-HPG personnel on duty at night. Attention, MMDA Chair Danny Lim and PNP-HPG chief Police Gen. Eliseo Cruz.

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TAGS: illegal online lending, Jake J. Maderazo, malls, Metro Manila traffic, Price monitoring, Sharp Edges
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