Farmers group launches anti-loan shark hotline

DAVAO CITY— A farmers group recently launched  the ‘Anti-loan shark hotline” in an effort to complement the Paquibato District Peasant Alliance or PADIPA’s battle against the loan-shark Quedancor.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Southern Mindanao Region (KMP-SMR) said :“We reiterate the farmers’ demand of the total write – off of their 7.4million pesos debt incurred out of the unfair policies that Quedncor-GMA CARES Program. This would ease their economic-burden, especially now that they have been recently affected by rat infestation problem in their farms, continued militarization and the mining threats in their communities,” said Pedro Arnado, KMP- SMR Chaiperson.

KMP said the hotline aims to cater to other farmers in Davao who were also victimized by Quedanor amidst reports that a big number of farmers from other provinces in Region XI, and even nation-wide, have also acquired thousands of pesos of debts due to Quedancor’s “bloated and onerous interest” plot.

KMP announced that they may contact KMP anti-loan shark (text and call) hotline at 0910-2261000.

“This hotline number will also be widely disseminated in the provinces where Quedancor has actively operated. Also, it will be publicized on new media platforms such as KMP’s facebook, website and other net forums,” Arnado said.

According to the farmer’s group, all information that Quedancor victims will entrust KMP through the hotline will be treated with utmost confidentiality. Information from the hotline callers will be channeled to the appropriate offices to assist them in terms of legal services and other necessary actions.

KMP-SMR will also continue to educate the grassroots on the hotline through community forums and other related activities.

Arnado said, “KMP utilizes the strong support system, close ties with our members, with the poor peasantry in various communities, to rally them towards preventing further exploitation and seeking greater government accountability in solving the perennial problem of landlessness and usury.”

He added, “KMP will leverage on its various partnerships, engagements and activities to publicize this hotline to also generate support for the farmers and sustain our efforts to stem out government agencies’ loan-sharking activities.”

Since the November last year, Paquibato farmers were heaped with a 7 Million debt, due to the 12-14% interest rates levied on farm inputs that they were asked to acquire through a supposed assistance of the Ginintuang Masagana Ani Program or the GMA CARES-IAL-SRF project in 2002, managed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Quedancor.

The loan scheme provided loan in the form of farm inputs to aid farmers in their farm production and livelihood projects reaching P25,000.00 without collateral payable in 3 months, 6 months or 1 year but not exceeding 3 years.

Arnado said that what the farmers were not made to understand was that interest rates could reach up to 2% per month or a whopping 24% interest per annum. He also decried the abusiveness of the loan scheme since farmers were also charged of other fees such as service fees up to 3% of the loan, Group Credit Life Insurance; Documentary Stamps; Application Fee; and Notarial Fees.

Arnado added that the situation involving the Paquibato farmers only reflect the dehumanizing plight of the majority of the farmers under a bogus and corrupt land reform law in the name of the Comprehensive Agreement on Agrarian Reforms Program Extension With Reforms (CARPER).

“This is exactly why we have been pushing for the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) alongside with our long time struggle for justice and land reform. We have already brought this QUEDANCOR issue to the attention of our City’s House of Representatives and so far they have been showing efforts to also pressure the Aquino government in responding to our demands,” Arnado said.

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