SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Politicians leading in the surveys concerning “presidentiables” should be reminded that the elections are still a long way off.

Survey frontliners should not be hubristic or overconfident.

Between now and May 9, 2022 – election day – many things can happen.

Filipino voters are fickle-minded; they easily change their minds.

We’ve seen that in the many months preceding the 2016 elections, when surveys showed that vice president Jojo Binay was leading the pack.

After a while, Sen. Grace Poe overtook Binay.

And then, Poe and Binay tied in first place in the SWS polls, at 26 percent each in December 2015.

Sen. Mar Roxas came in second in the same SWS survey, with 22 percent of the tally.

Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte came in third, with 20 percent.

By April 2016, one month before the election, a Pulse Asia survey showed Duterte overtaking Grace Poe, the erstwhile leading candidate, by a wide margin.

Duterte had 33 percent, while Poe had 22 percent of the Pulse Asia tally.

On election day, Duterte garnered 39 percent of the vote, followed by Roxas with 23.45; Poe, 21.39.

Binay, who was the strongest contender for the presidency in the beginning, came in with only 12.73 percent.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was always at the tail end of every pre-election survey for the 2016 elections, got 3.42 percent, apparently because voters saw her declining health.

*      *      *

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian wants to pass a law criminalizing abusive debt collection practices by online lending platforms.

Senate Bill 2287, or the proposed “Financial Products and Services Consumer Act,” prohibits using abusive collection or debt recovery practices.

Gatchalian’s intentions are noble, but he should also put himself in the shoes of the lender.

Most Filipinos borrow without the intention of paying their debt.

Unlike banks and pawnshops, online lending platforms lend out money without collateral.

Banks take over a lender’s property, put up as collateral, and sell it if the loan isn’t paid back. Pawnshops can sell pawned items not claimed within a specified period.

Online lending platforms depend on the lenders’ ability to pay. If they don’t pay, then their standing in their communities, Facebook accounts, telephone numbers of their offices and those of their friends are fair game as avenues to remind them of their debt.

A creditor harassing a lender who refuses to pay his or her debt is part of the consequences.
Sometimes, shaming a welsher on Facebook or in front of friends, fellow employees or a boss is the only way for him or her to pay up.

Online lending platforms operate much like the Mafia, which lends out money based on the debtor’s word of honor.

Failure to pay a debt to the Mafia has enormous consequences, including death.

In the first place, the lenders never forced the debtors to come to them for a loan.

The lender trusts the debtor. If that trust is violated, then the debtor should suffer the consequences.

*      *      *

One should never lend money to close friends and relatives.

When a friend or relative approaches me for a loan of, say, P10,000, I give P1,000 and tell my friend or relative the amount is a donation.

That way, you retain your relationship with them.

Friendships and other relationships break up because of unpaid loans.

I once put up a P300,000 fund for our high school class during a reunion years ago.

I thought long and hard about it because it was a large amount. But I wanted to help my poor classmates.

A maximum of P10,000 could be drawn as a loan from the fund, with no collateral, and very low interest to make the fund roll and a going concern.

The loan would be paid in monthly installments.

Honesty was to have been the basis for the loan.

But alas and alack, only very few paid back their loans, and so the fund was depleted after a while!

Do you know who paid back their loans? My former classmates who were have-nots, like the tricycle driver and the sidewalk vendor.

I found out later that the others really didn’t need the loan but only got it to spend on frivolities.

*      *      *

Police Lt. Renato Florentino, whom we exposed as a sex pervert in my column in another broadsheet, is doing everything to remain in the force.

Florentino, former chief of the warrant section of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), was sacked from his position.

I had received reports that female detainees at the QCPD warrant section would be called to Florentino’s office, where they were sexually harassed.

The police officer has since been slapped with an administrative case; the hearing is ongoing.

To defend himself, Florentino asked three detainees, all of whom have since been released, to testify in his favor.

The former detainees said Florentino coerced them into signing an affidavit that they were not sexually harassed.

One of the former detainees, Cherry (surname deliberately omitted), said she was summoned by Florentino to his office, where she was threatened that something bad would happen to her and her family should rumors about his lecherous acts become public.

Cherry, who was being held for estafa until she posted bail, was in a state of shock when she came out of Florentino’s office. She talked incoherently for several days because of the threat.

Her husband, who visited her days later, would not believe that nothing sexual happened between her and the police lieutenant.

Ironically, Cherry and Florentino belong to a religious sect whose members are closely knit and respect one another.

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