By Lee Chipongian
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said he will be on a fluid schedule while taking off from work to continue with his cancer treatment.
Espenilla said he will have to remain isolated from his staff and BSP officials while recovering from a three-week medical treatment, part of which was done in the US this month.
“I still need to limit public contact and appearances for medical reasons,” he said. His intermittent leave will be based on a “flexible treatment schedule.”
“I hope people don’t get too excited,” Espenilla added. “(I’m) making good progress.”
According to staff at the Office of the Governor in BSP headquarters in Manila, Espenilla who lives in Quezon City, prefers to hold temporary office at the BSP Security Plant Complex (SPC) along East Avenue in Quezon City. SPC staff could not confirm Espenilla was in the area yesterday. It is not clear where Espenilla currently reports to work.
In the meantime, Monetary Board members Felipe M. Medalla and Bruce J. Tolentino both said that they have been informed that Espenilla will have limited personal contact.
“He has limited personal contact because he must avoid any infections,” said Tolentino. “He is continuing treatment to ensure no relapse.”
Medalla said Espenilla “communicates with us using SMS and email.” He assures that the BSP governor remains “very focused”.
In an event yesterday — Espenilla’s speech was delivered by Deputy Governor Cyd Tuaño-Amador before The Tuesday Club Meeting — he said that he is cautiously optimistic about 2019 prospects of the local economy, as well as inflation and money market trends.
He said “vigilance is warranted” because of the uncertainty in the timing and magnitude of the US policy rate movements and this could lead to “potential capital flow reversals in emerging economies” such as the Philippines.
Espenilla also said that the BSP “remains steadfast in safeguarding price and financial stability (and) policies shall continue to be responsive to the changing environment with decisive and careful reforms.”
“Data dependent monetary policy, guided by inflation forecasts, will be timely and prudent,” he said. But, he added that global operating environment remains challenging. “This may mean more tail events and volatility. Downside risks to growth may eventuate.”
Espenilla has been on an extended medical leave, on and off, since September 2018, while undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy for tongue cancer.
On January 22, he has named Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier as officer-in-charge for the duration of his leave of absence.