By Chito Chavez
A militant labor leader has slammed the designation of former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno as the new Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) branding that his appointment reinforces ‘the elitism of the country’s central bank’’.
Leody De Guzman of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) said the working class will never forget Diokno’s statement that “if you work hard you won’t be hungry in the Philippines’’.
He lashed out at Diokno for making such degrading remark which he claimed was made at the height of the country’s inflationary crisis last year.
The appointment of the budget secretary accused of P75-billion insertion in the public works budget followed the death of former Governor Nestor Espenilla.
“Appointing someone [who] is insensitive to effects of inflation to the poor like Diokno is a recipe for disaster, especially for our 2022 target to reduce poverty to 14%,” De Guzman said.
De Guzman also asked Congress and the Duterte administration to put forward “pro-labor” reforms in the central bank’s charter, following its amendment by Republic Act 11211 signed by President Duterte last February.
“At best, the reforms made were cosmetic. If the Filipino people will be kind enough to elect me to [the] Senate, I’ll ensure a more lasting reform: labor representation, and bringing back employment as a central bank objective,” he added.
De Guzman lamented the “privatization” of the central bank under Republic Act 7653, which reduced the number of government representatives to the monetary board and reduced the central bank’s role to price stabilization.
“The 1948 Central Bank established by Republic Act 265 mandated a central bank that is responsible for ‘a rising level of production, employment, and real income’. This mandate conspicuously absent in later versions of central bank charter,” De Guzman noted.
De Guzman vowed to fight for a “pro-labor monetary policy” through legislation, which will feature “representative from the labor sector chosen from the unions and labor groups, as well as the labor secretary from the government” in the monetary board.
“It is time for Congress to reverse the elitism of the BSP, with Diokno as its new avatar, and design a central bank that consciously promotes the welfare of the majority,” De Guzman ended.