​VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Report claiming debtors of ‘sari-sari’ stores may face court cases MISLEADING

A story published by Health Miracle Pedia (healthmiraclepedia.com) claiming cases may now be filed against anyone who does not pay their debts -- even those who owe money to neighborhood or sari-sari stores -- is misleading.

Health Miracle Pedia’s Sept. 24 headline, which reads, “Pangungutang: Maaari Na Makasuhan Ngayon Ang Mga Hindi Nagbabayad Ng Utang Maging Sa Sari-Sari Store Man Ito (On owing money: Cases may now be filed against people who don’t pay their debts, even money owed to sari-sari stores),” is inaccurate and a clickbait. The information that the health and home remedy website shared is also outdated.

Health Miracle Pedia rehashed a July 2017 ABS-CBN News report about the Supreme Court (SC)’s revision of procedures for small-claim cases, which is for people seeking payment or reimbursement for loans amounting to P200,000 or less.

The filing of cases against debtors is not a newly-introduced process. The SC’s revision of procedures only simplifies the process for small claims, where petitioners who are owed P200,000 or less do not need a lawyer and only need to file a claims form and supporting documents.

Health Miracle Pedia’s misleading story is likewise inaccurate in that it reported P200,000 as the maximum amount for small claims procedures. The SC has raised the amount twice since its introduction in 2015. In 2018, it was increased to P300,000 for all first-level courts nationwide, while this April, the SC announced an increase to P400,000 for first-level trial courts in Metro Manila.

The misleading story also wrongly referred to ousted SC Chief Justice (CJ) Maria Lourdes Sereno as an incumbent. The SC has had two succeeding chief justices since her ouster in 2018; now-retired CJ Lucas Bersamin was the incumbent when Health Miracle Pedia published its story.

Health Miracle Pedia’s misleading report surfaced around the same time the National Privacy Commission summoned 67 online lenders on Oct. 4 over data privacy complaints which alleged that they used their clients’ personal information without consent to have them settle their loans.

Traffic to the misleading story from social media largely came from Facebook pages Positibong Pilipino, MELASON and Bestfriend. Health Miracle Pedia was created July 1, 2017.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)


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