Espenilla goes on medical leave anew

By Lee Chipongian

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. is not considering retirement but will seek “validation” from US doctors for his cancer-recovery and medical treatment.

BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla (REUTERS/Karen Lema / MANILA BULLETIN) BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla (REUTERS/Karen Lema / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Not considering retirement at all,” Espenilla said Friday in a text message. He said that his work is far from done and that under his watch, the central bank has plenty projects that he wants to finish. “That’s why I want to maximize my chances of healing,” he said.

BSP Corporate Affairs Office (CORAO) in an advisory, announced that Espenilla will again take a medical leave from January 4 to 21. “The Governor will be obtaining medical care overseas as part of his continuing treatment program,” it said.

Espenilla, in the meantime, said in the same text message that while his current medical treatment here is “progressing well” he wants another opinion.

“I am undergoing treatment here already and that’s progressing well. The US consultation is for validation that I am on the best track and see if there’s anything more to do to ensure full recovery,” he said.

BSP CORAO said the central bank’s officer in charge or OIC position will be alternately occupied by Deputy Governors Diwa C. Guinigundo and Maria Almasara Cyd N. Tuaño-Amador. The rotation is “in accordance with established business continuity protocols.”

The third deputy governor, Chuchi G. Fonacier, is not in the rotating roster because she was the OIC for most of the time that Espenilla was on intermittent medical leaves in September, October and November last year.

Espenilla, who has temporary speaking limitations, has been communicating via electronic or virtual means to the Monetary Board which he chairs, and to the BSP senior officials and staff. “Whenever I am on leave, I will remain accessible through the usual digital channels,” he said earlier in an email to BSP employees.

Espenilla was diagnosed with tongue cancer in November 2017 but after surgery, was in full recovery, he said. He went on medical leave for five weeks in September and October for further treatments, and another two weeks in November.

Espenilla, who turned 60 last October 12, was appointed the BSP’s fourth governor in May 2017 and formally took over in July of the same year.

The BSP CORAO assured the public Friday that the BSP “as an organization … remains focused on its mandate to ensure stable prices and maintain a sound financial system.”

Espenilla has previously told BSP employees that he will do all it will take to “defeat this illness completely" even as he will be "away from BSP from time to time on medical leave."