By authority of the United States, be it enacted by the Philippine Commission, that:
Section 1. The rate of interest for the loan or forbearance of any money goods, or credits and the rate allowed in judgments, in the absence of express contract as to such rate of interest, shall be six per centum per annum or such rate as may be prescribed by the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of the Philippines for that purpose in accordance with the authority hereby granted.
Section 1-A. The Monetary Board is hereby authorized to prescribe the maximum rate or rates of interest for the loan or renewal thereof or the forbearance of any money, goods or credits, and to change such rate or rates whenever warranted by prevailing economic and social conditions.
In the exercise of the authority herein granted, the Monetary Board may prescribe higher maximum rates for loans of low priority, such as consumer loans or renewals thereof as well as such loans made by pawnshops finance companies and other similar credit institutions although the rates prescribed for these institutions need not necessarily be uniform. The Monetary Board is also authorized to prescribe different maximum rate or rates for different types of borrowings, including deposits and deposit substitutes, or loans of financial intermediaries.
Section 2. No person or corporation shall directly or indirectly take or receive in money or other property, real or personal, or choses in action, a higher rate of interest or greater sum or value, including commissions, premiums, fines and penalties, for the loan or renewal thereof or forbearance of money, goods, or credits, where such loan or renewal or forbearance is secured in whole or in part by a mortgage upon real estate the title to which is duly registered, or by any document conveying such real estate or an interest therein, than twelve per centum per annum or the maximum rate prescribed by the Monetary Board and in force at the time the loan or renewal thereof or forbearance is granted: Provided, That the rate of interest under this section or the maximum rate of interest that may be prescribed by the Monetary Board under this section may likewise apply to loans secured by other types of security as may be specified by the Monetary Board.
Section 3. No person or corporation shall directly or indirectly demand, take, receive or agree to charge in money or other property, real or personal, a higher rate or greater sum or value for the loan or forbearance of money, goods, or credits where such loan or forbearance is not secured as provided in Section two hereof, than fourteen per centum per annum or the maximum rate or rates prescribed by the Monetary Board and in force at the time the loan or forbearance is granted.
Section 4. No pawnbroker or pawnbroker’s agent shall directly or indirectly stipulate, charge, demand, take or receive any higher rate or greater sum or value for any loan or forbearance than two and one-half per centum per month when the sum lent is less than one hundred pesos; two per centum per month when the sum lent is one hundred pesos or more, but not exceeding five hundred pesos; and fourteen per centum per annum when it is more than the amount last mentioned; or the maximum rate or rates prescribed by the Monetary Board and in force at the time the loan or forbearance is granted. A pawnbroker or pawnbroker’s agent shall be considered such, for the benefits of this Act, only if he be duly licensed and has an establishment open to the public.
It shall be unlawful for a pawnbroker or pawnbroker’s agent to divide the pawn offered by a person into two or more fractions in order to collect greater interest than the permitted by this section.
It shall also be unlawful for a pawnbroker or pawnbroker’s agent to require the pawner to pay an additional charge as insurance premium for the safekeeping and conservation of the article pawned.
Section 4-A. The Monetary Board may climinate, exempt from, or suspend the effectivity of, interest rate ceilings on certain types of loans or renewals thereof or forbearances of money, goods, or credit, whenever warranted by prevailing economic and social conditions.
Section 4-B. In the exercise of its authority to fix the maximum rate or rates of interest under this Act, the Monetary Board shall be guided by the following:
1. The existing economic conditions in the country and the general requirements of the national economy;
2. The supply of and demand for credit;
3. The rate of increase in the price levels; and
4. Such other relevant criteria as the Monetary Board may adopt.
Section 5. In computing the interest on any obligation, promissory note or other instrument or contract, compound interest shall not be reckoned, except by agreement: Provided, That whenever compound interest is agreed upon, the effective rate of interest charged by the creditor shall not exceed the equivalent of the maximum rate prescribed by the Monetary Board, or, in default thereof, whenever the debt is judicially claimed, in which last case it shall draw six per centum per annum interest or such rate as may be prescribed by the Monetary Board. No person or corporation shall require interest to be paid in advance for a period of more than one year: Provided, however, That whenever interest is paid in advance, the effective rate of interest charged by the creditor shall not exceed the equivalent of the maximum rate prescribed by the Monetary Board.
Section 6. Any person or corporation who, for any such loan or renewal thereof or forbearance, shall have paid or delivered a higher rate or greater sum or value than is hereinbefore allowed to be taken or received, may recover the whole interest, commissions, premiums penalties and surcharges paid or delivered with costs and attorneys’ fees in such sum as may be allowed by the court in an action against the person or corporation who took or received them if such action is brought within two years after such payment or delivery: Provided, however, That the creditor shall not be obliged to return the interest, commissions and premiums for a period of not more than one year collected by him in advance when the debtor shall have paid the obligation before it is due, provided such interest, and commissions and premiums do not exceed the rates fixed in this Act.
Section 7. All covenants and stipulations contained in conveyances, mortgages, bonds, bills, notes, and other contracts or evidences of debts, and all deposits of goods or other things, whereupon or whereby there shall be stipulated, charged, demanded, reserved, secured, taken, or received, directly or indirectly, a higher rate or greater sum or value for the loan or renewal or forbearance of money, goods, or credits than is hereinbefore allowed, shall be void: Provided, however, That no merely clerical error in the computation of interest, made without intent to evade any of the provisions of this Act, shall render a contract void: Provided, further, That parties to a loan agreement, the proceeds of which may be availed of partially or fully at some future time, may stipulate that the rate of interest agreed upon at the time the loan agreement is entered into, which rate shall not exceed the maximum allowed by law, shall prevail notwithstanding subsequent changes in the maximum rates that may be made by the Monetary Board: And Provided, finally, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent the purchase by an innocent purchaser of a negotiable mercantile paper, usurious or otherwise, for valuable consideration before maturity, when there has been no intention on the part of said purchaser to evade the provisions of this Act and said purchase was not a part of the original usurious transaction. In any case, however, the maker of said note shall have the right to recover from said original holder the whole interest paid by him thereon and, in case of litigation, also the costs and such attorney’s fees as may be allowed by the court.
Section 8. All loans under which payment is to be made in agricultural products or seed or in any other kind of commodities shall also be null and void unless they provide that such products or seed or other commodities shall 6e appraised at the time when the obligation falls due at the current local market price: Provided, That unless otherwise stated in a document written in a language or dialect intelligible to the debtor and subscribed in the presence of not less than two witnesses, any contract advancing money to be repaid later in agricultural products or seed or any other kind of commodities shall be understood to be a loan, and any person or corporation having paid otherwise shall be entitled in case action is brought within two years after such payment or delivery to recover all the products or seed delivered as interest, or the value thereof, together with the costs and attorney’s fees in such sum as may be allowed by the court. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prevent the lender from taking interest for the money lent, provided such interest be not in excess of the rates herein fixed.
Section 9. The person or corporation sued shall file its answer in writing under oath to any complaint brought or filed against said person or corporation before a competent court to recover the money or other personal or real property, seeds or agricultural products, charged or received in violation of the provisions of this Act. The lack of taking an oath to an answer to a complaint will mean the admission of the facts contained in the latter.
Section 9-A. The Monetary Board shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement effectively the provisions of this Act.
Section 10. Without prejudice to the proper civil action violation of this Act and the implementing rules and regulations promulgated by the Monetary Board shall be subject to criminal prosecution and the guilty person shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to a fine of not less than fifty pesos nor more than five hundred pesos, or to imprisonment for not less than thirty days nor more than one year, or both, in the discretion of the court, and to return the entire sum received as interest from the party aggrieved, and in the case of non-payment, to suffer subsidiary imprisonment at the rate of one day for every two pesos: Provided, That in case of corporations, associations, societies, or companies the manager, administrator or gerente or the person who has charge of the management or administration of the business shall be criminally responsible for any violation of this Act.
Section 11. All Acts and parts of Acts inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed.
Section 12. This Act shall take effect on the first day of May, nineteen hundred and sixteen.