PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the arrest and deportation of Indian nationals involved in lending money at usurious interest rates.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Duterte wanted to save the poor Filipino vendors being victimized by the usurers
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Duterte ordered the crackdown on the Indians.
“They can be arrested for operating without any permits,” Aguirre said.
During the Cabinet meeting Monday night, Duterte asked Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. to inform the Indian ambassador of his decision to stop the Indians’ usurious lending scheme in the Philippines.
“They are violating Philippine laws by indulging in a money-making business without the necessary permits,” Duterte said.
Piñol said that after he discussed poverty in the countryside and the desperate moves of small businessmen to borrow money from usurious money lenders just to survive, Duterte announced an initial release of P1 billion for a micro-lending program.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez had earlier said the government would this month initiate a micro-lending program to replace the Indian lenders.
The government is also launching a Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso or P3 program in Mindoro, Leyte and Sarangani following Duterte’s order to eliminate usurious lenders.
“The P3 is designed to bring down the interest rate at which micro-finance is made available to micro enterprises,” Lopez said.
The loanable amount starts at P5,000 for start-ups to a maximum of P300,000 with an interest rate of 26 percent per annum with no collateral requirement.