By IGNACIO R. BUNYE
2019 marks two important milestones – the 70th year of central banking in the Philippines and the 26th anniversary of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Established by virtue of the Central Bank Act of 1948 – which was signed into law by President Elpidio Quirino, the old Central Bank of the Philippines officially commenced operation on January 3, 1949.
Prior to the existence of the Central Bank – from which the current Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) traces its roots – the oversight functions over the country’s monetary system were carried out by the Department of Finance and the National Treasury.
The Central Bank’s first governor was former Finance Secretary Miguel Cuaderno, Sr.
Cuaderno was followed by a long line of governors, to wit:
Era of the Central Bank of the Philippines (1949 to 1993) – Andres V. Castillo, Alfonso T. Calalang, Gregorio S. Licaros, Jaime C. Laya, Jose B. Fernandez, Jr., and Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.
Era of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (1993 to the present) – Gabriel C. Singson, Rafael B. Buenaventura, Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., and Benjamin E. Diokno.
Late last month, the BSP celebrated the twin milestones with the release of the book – “The Story of Philippine Central Banking: Stability and Strength at Seventy.”
The book was authored by a team of career central bankers who put together a compilation of comprehensive and insightful essays on various aspects of the bank’s mission and operations over the past seven decades.
They discussed how the BSP managed the challenging domestic and international economic environment based on the three pillars of central banking.
The book’s principal authors and co-authors were:
- Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, Monetary Board Member Juan D. de Zuñiga, Jr., Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo, Deputy Governor Ma. Almasora Cyd N. Tuaño-Amador, Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier, Deputy Governor Francisco G. Dakila, Jr.;
- Senior Assistant Governor and General Counsel Elmore O. Capule, Senior Assistant Governor Maria Ramona Gertrudes T. Santiago, Assistant Governor Wilhelmina C. Mañalac;
- Senior Director Thomas Benjamin B. Marcelo, Senior Director Rosabel B. Guerrero;
- Director Dennis D. Lapid, Director Jayzle D. Ravelo, Director Raymond O. Estioko , Director Eleanor S. Turaray;
- Bank Officer V Faith Christian Q. Cacnio, Bank Officer V Michaela G. Alvarez, Bank Officer V Marites B. Oliva, Legal Officer IV Katrina Anne T. Limbohai-Alcion, and Legal Officer IV Nicolo F. Bernardo.
During the book launch – which was attended by members of the banking community including past members of the Monetary Board – Governor Diokno said the journey of the central monetary authority has not been easy.
“There were twists and turns, bumps, even detours but we held on and stayed on track.”
Diokno was referring to a chronology of challenging events which adversely impacted the Philippines – the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, the 1983 debt crisis, the ensuing political and economic crisis in the aftermath of the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, the 1997 Asian contagion, the 2000 dot.com bubble burst, the Philippine fiscal crisis, and the 2007-2008 global financial crisis.
The refurbished central monetary authority – now called the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or BSP – managed to cope with the challenges and turn the situation around, in the process even succeeding in obtaining for the Philippines an investment grade status.
Today, Diokno asserts, “inflation is tame…. banks are robust …. and the exchange rates remain consistent with macro fundamentals of growth.”
The recently approved amendments to the charter of the Bangko Sentral, Diokno says, further enables the BSP “to cope with constantly evolving challenges” and “bolster our ability to safeguard the stability of prices.”
In his own article, Diokno paid tribute to his eminent predecessors, “who bequeathed to us the strategic vision to help improve the life of Filipinos through the central bank’s policies and programs.”
He pledged “to pursue the late Governor Nestor ‘Nesting’ Espenilla Jr.’s reform agenda on financial inclusion, financial learning, and consumer protection, while leveraging on financial technology.”
With deserved pride, Diokno announced that the BSP again emerged as No. 1 among 69 public institutions, which were recently rated by the Makati Business Club.
“This is the 25th time that the BSP has been given this seal of good housekeeping. In the latest survey, the respondents gave the BSP a satisfaction rating of 97 percent,” Diokno said.
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