By Lee Chipongian
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. is extending his medical leave after announcing earlier this month that he will be consulting US doctors for his cancer treatment.
Espenilla has assigned one of his three deputy governors, Chuchi G. Fonacier, who became deputy governor last July 2017, in charge of the central bank for the “duration” of his leave in what sources said is an “indefinite” period of time, from a week or longer.
The order memo from the Office of the Governor, titled “Acting Designation” and signed by Espenilla on January 22, said that effective January 22 and “for the duration of my leave of absence, Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier is hereby designated Officer-in-Charge of the (BSP) and the Governor’s alternate during the meetings of the Monetary Board.”
Sources said Espenilla is back in the Philippines and is “resting” after more than two weeks’ sick leave.
Usually, the three deputy governors: Fonacier, Cyd N. Tuaño-Amador, and Diwa C. Guinigundo are assigned as OIC in a rotating manner. The OIC rotation is a protocol and routine in the central bank.
Both Fonacier and Tuaño-Amador were appointed deputy governors in July 2017, the same time Espenilla took his post as the BSP’s fourth governor.
Guinigundo, on the other hand, was first appointed deputy governor in 2005, and head of the Monetary and Stability Sector of the BSP (now renamed Monetary and Economics Sector), the same sector headed by former governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr.
Espenilla went on medical leave January 4 until January 21 to “(obtain) medical care overseas as part of his continuing treatment program,” according to the BSP Corporate Affairs Office.
Espenilla was on intermittent medical leaves in September, October, and November last year. He 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 treatment including radiation and chemotherapy and took an additional long leave in November.
Before Espenilla left for the US, he has said that he is hoping a second opinion will shed more light on his earlier cancer diagnosis.