Senators welcome Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno as BSP governor

By Hannah Torregoza

Some senators on Tuesday said they welcome the appointment of Benjamin Diokno as the next Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor.

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero commended President Rodrigo Duterte for appointing Diokno to the post, which comes over a week after the death of Nestor Espenilla, Jr.

New Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor and former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno (KEVIN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)
New Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor and former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno (KEVIN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)

It was Diokno who disclosed his appointment on Monday night to reporters. He would be serving the remainder of Espenilla’s six-year term. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed his appointment.

“This will certainly ensure the stability, continuity & predictability of the country’s fiscal policies & gains. I wish him well!” Escudero said in a text message to reporters.

Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, also rejected insinuations that Diokno’s transfer to the BSP from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has something to do with the issues leveled against him by Rep. Rolando Andaya, former House majority leader and now head of the House committee on appropriations.

“I don’t think so because I consider his appointment to the position of BSP Governor as a ‘promotion’ given that: instead of handling merely the finances of the government, he will now be responsible for the monetary policy and financial system of the country,” Escudero explained.

Escudero pointed out the Secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF) only sits as a member, while the BSP governor sits as chair of the Monetary Board. In the case of Diokno, he said the new BSP governor would be holding a fixed term “which means he will serve beyond President Duterte’s term.”

Escudero, likewise, defended Diokno from insinuations he doesn’t have much experience or background in the banking industry.

“The primary function of the BSP Governor thru the monetary board is to set the monetary policy and supervise the financial system of the country which he is very well adept with.

“The supervision of banks is only one of his functions which the BSP family is more than capable to perform and assist him with given the strong regulatory framework that has been set through the years through legislation and previous monetary board issuances,” he added.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chair of the Senate ways and means, echoed Escudero’s observation: “It’s something he’ll have to learn fairly quickly as the stakes are high.”

“But as he is known to be extremely bright, he should be alright. We wish him well,” Angara said.

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said that while Diokno may not be the best choice for the post, he believes his appointment as a BSP Governor is most welcome.

“Secretary Diokno may not be the best choice since he is not well known to have much banking experience and has yet to introduce himself to the international banking community,” Lacson said.

“Nevertheless, knowing his long, reputable public service, both in the budget department and in the academe where he served with competence and integrity, he is still a welcome appointment as BSP Governor,” added the senator.