COTABATO CITY: The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), through its branch here, is assisting over 1,300 public school teachers from Maguindanao to pay up debts they owed for years to loan sharks, the regional Department of Education (DepEd) office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) announced this week.
Initially, 730 of usurious loans-saddled public school teachers in Maguindanao had received a total of P180-million loan as of last week from the LBP-Cotabato City branch, lawyer Jamar Kulayan, DepEd-ARMM secretary, said in a press statement furnished The Manila Times Tuesday.
Bulk of the loan proceeds would be used to pay up the recipient-teachers’ long standing debts to private loan lenders operating in Maguindanao, it was learned.
Maguindanao, one of five ARMM component provinces, has close to 4,000 public school teachers, about half of whom have been “heavily indebted” to loan sharks for years, sources said.
Kulayan said LBP branch officials told him in a recent meeting here that the loan applications of 600 more teachers from the province were under process and due for approval this month or the next.
He said the loan facility, which entails a 7- to 8-percent annual interest rate, is covered by a memorandum of agreement forged earlier by the ARMM education agency with the LBP management.
Gov. Mujiv Hataman of ARMM had sought the LBP loan facility to end the years-old indebtedness of “sizable” number of public teachers to usurious private money lenders, who are charging as high as 48 percent a year.
“The adverse effect of usurious monetary transactions dampens the function and morale of indebted public school mentors,” Hataman was quoted as lamenting earlier.
Upon his assumption of the ARMM leadership in late 2011, Hataman had ordered the payment of public school teachers via automated teller machine (ATM) cards to curb reported cases of “ghost” teachers in the region.
However, the payment scheme has been stalled in Maguindanao because private money lenders have been holding the ATM cards of several teachers in the province.