Proposed interest rate may pose legal issues

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE move to lower the annual interest rate that the Cebu City Government is imposing in its socialized housing program may have legal consequences, members of the City Council said.

This, after learning from the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) that the new interest rate will cover those socialized housing beneficiaries whose contracts with the City says that no penalties and interests will be imposed on them.

The City is imposing a nine-percent annual interest rate for its socialized housing program.

Councilor Alvin Dizon, who is the chairperson of the council’s committee on housing, proposed an ordinance that seeks to lower it from nine to six percent, in an effort to help ease the financial burden of the socialized housing beneficiaries.

If approved by the legislative body, DWUP Chief Collin Rosell said the new and reduced interest rate will be applied to all socialized housing beneficiaries of the City.

This will include the five homeowners’ associations whose contracts says they don’t have to pay penalties and interests to the City for their respective home lots.

They are the Buhisan Homeowners Association, Lower Bitaña Homeowners Association, Laguna Homeowners Association, Proper Ermita Homeowners Association and the Villa Homeowners Association.

According to Rosell, they have not been imposed of any penalties nor interests by the City for at least 10 years now.

Upon learning about the matter, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said implementing the new interest rate to all socialized housing beneficiaries may violate the equal protection clause of the Philippine Constitution.

Article 3, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of laws.”

The vice mayor’s pronouncement was supported by Councilor Sisinio Andales. The councilor added that an ordinance should not be retroactive.

Labella then asked DWUP and Dizon to coordinate with each other so that the provisions of the proposed ordinance will be refined.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 30, 2013.

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