PH Central Bank Chief Espenilla passes away at 60

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2019   •   1634

The late BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr

MANILA, Philippines – Governor and Monetary Board Chairman Nestor Espenilla Jr., passed away on Saturday after succumbing to cancer, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) confirmed on Sunday. He was 60.

“It is with deep sadness that the Monetary Board announced that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and Chairman of the Monetary Board Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. peacefully passed away on 23 February 2019 surrounded by members of his family,” BSP said in a statement.

Espenilla had been battling tongue cancer for more than a year and had been on intermittent leave to undergo surgery and radiation therapy.

Espenilla was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3, 2017 to supposedly head the central bank for six years.

He also served as ex-officio chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Philippine International Convention Center and the Financial Stability Coordination Council.

BSP said that under his leadership, the agency “continued to pursue major reforms under the theme ‘Continuity Plus Plus’ covering monetary and financial policies, as well as the BSP organizational structure.”

Espenilla started his four-decade career in the central bank with debt analysis. In 2005, he was appointed as BSP deputy governor for supervision and examination sector, in charge of disciplining banks.

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Sunday thanked Espenilla for his “complete devotion to his work and great service to the nation”.

“As we express our condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and loved ones of Governor Espenilla, we express our gratitude to the man once in charge of disciplining banks for his complete devotion to his work and great service to the nation,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo noted that the late official “was best remembered by the ordinary Juan de la Cruz for making financial services closer to Filipinos who – we are all aware — transact mostly using non-bank channels.”

Espenilla pioneered an electronic fund transfer system called InstaPay and an automated clearing house dubbed PESONet under a broader regulatory framework, the National Retail Payment System.

These “saw the Philippines’ gradual shift from cash and check-based payment to electronic means,” Panelo said.

“Rest in peace, Governor Nesting,” he added.

BSP said that in a special meeting held on Saturday, the “Monetary Board designated Deputy Governor Almasara Cyd Tuano-Amador as BSP Officer-in-Charge (OIC) effective immediately until such time that President Rodrigo Duterte shall have designated an OIC or appointed a successor.”

Espenilla is survived by his wife, Maria Teresita Festin Espenilla; daughter, Jacqueline Joyce, and son-in-law, Ben Baltazar; sons Nikko Nestor and Leonardo Nestor; and, grandchild, Zev Eron.

The details of the viewing will be announced later, the BSP added. – Robie de Guzman

BSP on Yasay’s arrest for alleged violations of banking laws: ‘No comment’

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday said it will not issue any comment on the arrest of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., for his alleged violation of the country’s banking laws.

“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will not issue any comment as the matter is pending before the court and to do so would violate sub judice rule,” the central bank said in a statement.

On Thursday night, the Manila Police served a warrant of arrest to Yasay for his supposed violations of the provisions of Republic Act 8791 otherwise known as the General Banking Law, and Republic Act 7653 or the New Central Bank Act.

READ: MPD serves warrant of arrest to ex-DFA Sec. Yasay

Based on the information about the case, Yasay, together with five associates of the Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgages Bank conspired and aided each other in securing a loan amounting to P350-million for Tierrasud Incorporated which was partly guaranteed and secured by Tropical Land Corporation.

Yasay and company allegedly failed to report such loan accommodation to the BSP.

“The service of the Warrant of Arrest against Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. is a consequence of the filing of criminal information by the Department of Justice before the court,” the BSP said.

“A judge issued the said warrant pursuant to the provisions of the Rules of Court,” it added.

On his Facebook account, Yasay denied the allegation, pointing out that he joined Banco Filipino in 2009, while the alleged crime was committed from 2003 to 2006.

Yasay served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in an ad interim basis from June 30, 2016 until March 8, 2017.

MPD serves warrant of arrest to ex-DFA Sec Yasay

Maris Federez   •   August 22, 2019

The Manila Police District (MPD) Warrant and Subpoena Service-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (WSS-CIDU) on Thursday afternoon served a warrant of arrest to former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay Jr at his home in Makati City.

According to a statement issued by the MPD, representative from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Atty. Jonn Irvin Velasques appeared at their office and requested for police assistance to implement the warrant of arrest against Yasay.

The statement added that after proper coordination with the concerned police district, the team together, with Atty. Velasques proceeded to Yasay’s residence and served him the order of arrest dated March 8, 2019, issued by Judge Danilo Leyva of Manila RTC Br. 10.

The arrest warrant is for the former DFA official’s several violations of the provisions of Republic Act 8791 otherwise known as the General Banking Law, and Republic Act 7653 otherwise known as the New Central Bank Act.

Based on the information of the case, Yasay, together with five associates of the Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgages Bank conspired and aided each other in securing a loan amounting to 350-million pesos for Tierrasud Incorporated which was partly guaranteed and secured by Tropical Land Corporation.

Yasay and company allegedly failed to report such loan accommodation to the BSP.

Yasay was initially brought to the MPD for documentation and set to be transferred to CDS while awaiting commitment order from the court of origin.

On his Facebook account, Yasay denied the allegation, pointing out that he joined Banco Filipino in 2009, while the alleged crime was committed from 2003 to 2006.

He also stressed that he will not post bail until he is brought before the judge where he said he will question such act which he described as “an abuse of process” and a mockery to the justice system.

He also posted a picture of him taken by his wife while being processed for a mugshot.

Yasay served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in an ad interim basis from June 30, 2016 until March 8, 2017. (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

Solon urges BSP to name banks asking for higher ATM fees

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines – Makati City Representative Luis Campos Jr. on Friday urged the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to name the banks that are asking for higher charges on automated teller machine (ATM) transactions.

Campos noted the BSP’s Consumer Financial Protection Department could release the names of banks that have already submitted applications for ATM fee adjustment.

“The banks are bound to be identified anyway, considering that both the House and the Senate are poised to launch separate inquiries,” he said in a statement.

Campos earlier said the House of Representatives is set to conduct an inquiry into the looming increase in ATM charges following the lifting of the moratorium imposed by the BSP in 2013.

Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, also said they are eyeing to investigate the reported plan to increase ATM fees that is seen to further burden Filipino workers.

READ: House seeks inquiry on looming ATM fee hike

READ: Poe eyes probe on plan to hike ATM fees

A BSP official earlier disclosed that less than 10 banks have already petitioned to raise their ATM transaction fees. At least one bank, however, is actually seeking permission to slash its ATM user fee.

“That’s good news. If one big bank can bring down its ATM charge, presumably due to economies of scale, why can’t the rest of the big banks do the same?” Campos said.

Economies of scale with respect to ATM operations simply means that the bigger banks with more machines achieve greater cost-savings from the higher level of use.

“While it might be understandable for the smaller banks with fewer ATMs to want to raise their fees, it might be harder for the bigger banks to justify their plans to jack up charges,” Campos said.

Currently, banks are charging between P10 to P15 per interbank withdrawal transaction, and P2 to P2.50 per interbank balance inquiry.

Campos noted that a number of banks had wanted to push up their ATM charges by as much as 50 percent before the BSP ordered a standstill in 2013.

He said the five largest full-service universal private banks in terms of market capitalization at the Philippine Stock Exchange are BDO Unibank Inc. (BDO), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank), Security Bank Corp. and Philippine National Bank (PNB).

The solon noted that BDO has over 4,000 ATMs, not counting the 976 ATMs of sister lender China Banking Corp.

BPI has over 2,100 ATMs, while Metrobank has over 2,300 ATMs, excluding the 575 ATMs of subsidiary Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank).

Security Bank has 760 ATMs, while the PNB has 1,395.

Meanwhile, the state-owned LandBank of the Philippines (LBP) has 2,099 ATMs.

Campos noted that Surigao del Sur Representative Johnny Pimentel wanted the BSP to explain why it suddenly decided to lift the moratorium.

The Department of Trade and Industry led by Secretary Ramon Lopez also on Wednesday vowed to fight the looming increases in ATM fees.

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