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Killing PHL’s postal bank

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On October 9, Malacanang released President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 44, approving Land Bank of the Philippines’ (LBP) acquisition of Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB) and authorizing the PPSB conversion into Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB). The aim of this OFB is to efficiently deliver microfinance and micro-insurance products and services for overseas Filipinos who contribute to the country’s foreign exchange income, currency stability, employment, and overall economic growth through their remittances totalling $29 billion.

 

At first glance, the order is laudable, coming as it is as a fulfilment of one of the campaign promises of Mr. Duterte for the OFWs who came out solid behind him in the 2016 elections and the promise under the order for OFWs to be represented in the board that will manage the bank. A closer look at the President Duterte’s order, however, would show that the bank is obviously bias to OFWs, thus leaving out the bigger number of workers in the country, those based in the Philippines both in government and the private sector who also contribute to the nation’s economy through their taxes, among others.

 

What is more saddening is that Mr. Duterte’s order effectively destroyed the Postal Bank which is a historic institution which has been part of the country’s postal system that dates back to the era when the Philippines was a Spanish colony. And this is a big rebuff to the United Nations (UN) which oversees the operations of the postal systems throughout the world, postal banks included, through its highly respected agency called Universal Postal Union (UPU). Obviously, Mr. Duterte and his men are in a huff to impress the OFWs and fulfil a campaign promise rather than protect and strengthen a UN-supervised Philippine postal system and postal banking network, forgetting that the postal bank is among the biggest institutions in Japan and other countries. It will best for the country for Mr. Duterte, the leadership of the Philippine Postal Corporation which owns the Philippine Postal Bank, the Land Bank of the Philippines and Congress to review its order. Do they know that they create an OFW bank without destroying the PPSB by simply converting the PPSB as OFW Bank and increasing its capital to meet the OFWs’ needs? This way, the OFW Bank-Postal Bank could still retain its connections and benefits therefrom with all the postal systems of the world. Don’t be deceived by your eager-beaver aides, Mr. President.

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