Diokno, sworn in as new central bank chief; gains support from BSP

Maris Federez   •   March 7, 2019   •   2044

President Rodrigo R. Duterte (left) administered the oath of office of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno in Malacañang on March 6, 2019. | Photo credit: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, March 6, administered the oath of office of Benjamin Diokno as the new Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor.

Diokno was accompanied by his wife, Jo Ann Camacho, and son, Antonin Camacho, according to the press release issued by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

Warm Welcome

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas officials and employees, meanwhile, expressed their full support for Diokno, who formally assumed the top position as the new governor and chairman of the Monetary Board on Thursday.   

In a statement, BSP Officer-in-Charge Cyd Tuano-Amador said that as the fifth governor of the BSP, Diokno would bring with him a special brand of leadership honed from decades of exposure to different facets of government operations to improve the lives of Filipinos, in cooperation with the private sector, the academe, and various organizations.

Tuano added, “the BSP community looks forward to his assumption into office tomorrow, Thursday, and to working closely with him to ensure the smooth functioning of the central bank to effectively discharge its mandate to promote price and financial stability, to ensure a safe, reliable and efficient payments system as well as to help sustain economic growth that is inclusive and participatory.”

First Order of Business

Meanwhile, Diokno said he is considering to “expedite the reduction in the reserve requirement (ratio or RRR),” stressing that the current RRR is quite high.

Diokno, however, was quick to clarify that hastening the RRR reduction is still subject for review.

“We’ll look at timing. Timing is important. Maganda naman ‘yung deceleration ng inflation [The deceleration of inflation looks good],” Diokno said.

Diokno will serve the remainder of the 6-year term of the late Nestor A. Espenilla’s which will end in July 2023.

Prior to his appointment to the BSP, Diokno had served the government as the Budget and Management Secretary of President Duterte and former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph E. Estrada.

He also served under the late former President Corazon C. Aquino as DBM undersecretary from 1986-1991.

Diokno holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration (1968) and Masters’ Degrees in Public Administration (1970) and Economics (1974) also from U.P.

He earned his Master of Arts in Political Economy from the Johns Hopkins University in the US in 1976 and had completed a Ph.D. in Economics from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Syracuse University in the US in 1981. – Maris Federez

BSP issues digital banking license for Overseas Filipino Bank

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) has officially become the first branchless digital-only bank in the country’s history after securing a digital banking license from the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

OFBank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), secured a digital banking license last March 25, the DOF said in a statement on Monday.

Prior to that, the bank was able to commence its banking operations in June last year using its then-existing license to operate as a thrift bank.

OFBank, under Executive Order (EO) No. 44 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in September 2017, was created to establish a policy bank dedicated to providing financial products and services tailored to the requirements of overseas Filipinos.

“This milestone in the country’s banking history not only fulfills President Duterte’s campaign pledge to create a bank that caters to overseas Filipinos but will also help the Philippines leapfrog to the digital economy,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

“When President Duterte said he would create a bank that would serve overseas-based Filipinos, he wanted a bank that would be a trailblazer in terms of modernizing and expanding the scope of the services it offers to them,” he added.

OFBank was launched virtually in June last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the Philippines’ first branchless and digital-centric government bank, the DOF said.

While fine-tuning its operations, systems, and processes to enable its official transition into a digital bank, OFBank operated as a thrift bank, the DOF said.

In December 2020, the BSP issued Circular No. 1105 containing the guidelines on the establishment of digital banks, clearing the way for OFBank to apply for a license as a digital bank.

OFBank offers four digital products and services that include a digital onboarding system with artificial intelligence (DOBSAI), which allows the real-time opening of a mobile banking deposit account on supported iPhone or Android devices.

Aside from deposit savings accounts, OFBank’s digital services also include fund transfers, bill payments, and applications for multi-purpose loans, the DOF said.

OFBank’s global digital reach spans 112 countries, with its clients able to access online the services of 763 merchants onboarded in its mobile application via the LinkBiz.Portal, it added.

BSP clarifies grace period for loan payments in NCR Plus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The 30-day grace period on loan payments will not be extended as Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas, and Cavite were put under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

In a statement, the BSP clarified the 30-day grace period on loan payments was only effective on June 1, 2020, and will not be extended as the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus Bubble goes under ECQ until April 4.

“The Omnibus Guidelines (with Amendments as of March 28, 2021) issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases does not operate to extend the 30-day grace period provided for under Republic Act No. 11469,” the statement reads.

With this, the BSP encourages BSP supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to continue to provide relief measures to its clients by renewing, restructuring, or extending the terms of the loans based on their continuing assessment of their cash flows.

“The BSP has granted prudential relief measures to BSFIs to enable them to continue to provide financial services and support households and businesses amid the crisis,” the BSP added. AAC


Essential services to continue despite ECQ, BSP says

Robie de Guzman   •   March 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Monday assured it would continue to provide essential services despite the re-enforcement of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its neighboring provinces to mitigate the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna which are among the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble have been placed under a week-long ECQ. Only essential workers are allowed to travel during this period.

“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shall continue to provide essential services amid the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) declared by the National Government from March 29 to April 4,” it said in a statement.

“The BSP and the banking industry stand ready to ensure the safe and smooth functioning of the banking system,” it added.

The central bank, however, said it would be closed on Thursday and Friday in observance of the Lenten week.

The BSP earlier said it has implemented alternate work arrangements for non-essential workers at its head office in Manila and Security Plant Complex in Quezon City in response to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

On the other hand, bank personnel from mission-critical departments and support units will continue to report on-site while strictly observing health protocols mandated by the Department of Health.

It has also shortened work hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The central bank also renewed its push for the use of digital payment as this allows the public to carry out needed financial transactions safely amid the health crisis.


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