THE Cebu City Government closed nine branches of the Jerome’s Pawnshop & General Merchandise last March 8 for allegedly violating Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) rules.
Raquel Arce, head of Cebu City Hall’s Prevention Restoration Order Beautification Enhancement (Probe) office, said her personnel padlocked the pawnshop’s branches in barangays Pasil, Basak San Nicolas, Labangon, Calamba, Sanciangko, Junquera, Lahug and Talamban last Friday, March 8.
She said the closure operation went smoothly and employees did not react violently.
Arce will attend the hearing on the petition for a temporary restraining order filed in court by the Jerome’s Pawnshop management this Friday, March 15.
She said the pawnshop paid business taxes, but it has no permanent mayor’s business permit, which can only be granted if it fulfilled one requirement of the City Treasurer’s Office—the BSP clearance.
City Legal Officer Joseph Bernaldez said the pawnshop’s management failed to submit its maintenance of record and its reporting of obligation.
Jerome’s Pawnshop reportedly violated BSP Circular 938 for operating more than 10 branches under a single proprietorship.
According to its Facebook page, Jerome’s Pawnshop has a total of 15 branches spread out in Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities, and Consolacion and Minglanilla towns.
Under the Pawnshop Regulation Act, pawnshop owners are required to register with the BSP before they can start operating.
The pawnshop was investigated by the City Attorney’s Office after the BSP referred to the Office of the Mayor a complaint filed against the pawnshop’s branch on Sanciangko St.
The complainant, whose iPad mini was stolen and pawned at Jerome’s pawnshop, reported to the BSP when the pawnshop refused to release his gadget until the P3,500 principal for the pawned item was paid.
The BSP investigators then found out that the pawnshops were never registered since they began operating in 2002.
The closure order was ready since December last year, but its implementation was put on hold after the owner asked Mayor Tomas Osmeña for time to comply with the requirements.
Last January, Jerome Avila, sole proprietor of the pawnshop chain, said the closure order was shelved after his meeting with Osmeña at the latter’s residence.
Osmeña said in a separate interview then that he was giving the pawnshop management six months to comply with the requirements.
Arce did not say why the closure order was served before the lapse of six months. (From PAC of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)