Victims of failed pre-need plans form party-list group
MANILA, Philippines — From being ordinary parents fighting for the education of their children, victims of the pre-need education plan debacle now want to go to Congress to make sure no one else is victimized by unscrupulous businessmen.
The PEP Coalition launched its own bid to win Congressional seats as a party-list group on Saturday, with coalition leader Philip Piccio saying at the group’s national assembly in Pasig that they would be the first consumer rights protection group in Congress if they win.
First on their agenda in Congress, Piccio said, would be to push for laws to protect buyers of pre-need products.
“We will push for a pre-need law so that buyers of pre-need products will be assured that their money is safe and get back what they were promised. We also want to penalize heavily any corporation that would defraud its own clients,” Piccio told the Inquirer.
The PEP Coalition was formed almost two years ago by parents angered by a declaration by Pacific Plans Inc. (PPI) that it could no longer pay for the tuition of their children as promised in the plans they had purchased years earlier.
Since then, the group has taken in other victims of other companies like the College Assurance Plan (CAP), Platinum Plans, and the Professional Group (TPG), which have also declared their inability live up to their obligations under the pre-paid plans.
“This fiasco in the pre-need industry has exposed the inability of government agencies to protect the Filipino consumers who have always been victimized by unscrupulous businessmen. Now is time to fight for our rights as consumers,” Piccio said.
He added that they would also protect the public from other scams and would expand their scope beyond the pre-need and insurance industry. “We want to send the culprits to jail to show everyone that they cannot fool the Filipino consumer and to make sure these things don’t happen again.”
He clarified that their group was not out to destroy any industry, much less the pre-need industry. “We want to protect and save these industries,” he added.
The PEP Coalition obtained its accreditation as a party-list group from the Commission on Elections last February 2 despite attempts by “unscrupulous businessmen” to deny them accreditation, Piccio said.
Besides being a crusade for consumer rights, the group will also fight for good governance and transparency in government transactions.
Piccio said the group will not ally itself with either the administration or the opposition. He said the group’s funds come from donors whom he would not identify.
He said the group counts on half a million members
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