BSP tells banks not to discriminate PWDs

Published July 20, 2021, 3:56 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has issued a strong, even severe, reminder to all banks to respect persons with disability (PWD) and to uphold the rights of PWDs as financial consumers and clients.

BSP Memorandum No. M-2021-040, signed by BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier last July 16, said all BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) are directed to desist from PWD discriminatory practices and to adhere to all laws that protect and pertain to PWD rights. The memo is in response to previous complaints and appeals from the PWD sector against banks’ prejudiced, unfair and biased banking policies.

BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier (Bloomberg file photo)

Fonacier said all BSFIs are now “sternly reminded” to observe laws and regulations against discriminatory practices toward PWDs such as but not limited to a discriminatory system of not accepting government-issued PWD identification cards as sufficient IDs for the opening of accounts and other financial transactions.

The BSP has also directed all BSFIs to not discourage or to turn away visually impaired persons from opening bank accounts by “requiring the visually impaired customers to open only joint (“and/or”) accounts” which Fonacier said is discriminatory.

The memo, she added, is “for guidance and strict implementation.”

The BSP is likewise reminding all BSFIs to make sure that they have installed mobility ramps and Braille system in bank premises and automated teller machines or ATMs.

 “All BSFIs are also reminded to provide express lanes for PWDs similar to those express lanes reserved for senior citizens and pregnant women within their premises,” added Fonacier.

The memo is consistent and in compliance with BSP regulations on fair treatment and effective recourse under Section 1002 of the Manual of Regulations of Banks (MORB) and Sections 1002-Q, 702-N and 702-S of the Manual of Regulations of Non-Bank Financial Institutions (MORNBFI), as amended by Circular No. 1048 approved in September 2019. It is also in compliance with customer acceptance and identification policy under Section 921/921-Q of the MORB/MORNBFI.

 “BSFIs should take into account the needs of PWDs, such as but not limited to, those with learning difficulties, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and the visually impaired,” said Fonacier.

The BSP cited the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons or Republic Act No. 7277, as amended by Republic Act No. 10754, and Batas Pambansa No. 344, Executive Order No. 4177, as reference to guide BSFIs.

Fonacier said that all BSFIs should “ensure that their rights as PWDs to participate fully in the social life and enjoyment of opportunities available to other citizens are upheld at all times.” About 1.57 percent or 1.443 million Filipinos are PWDs, based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing of the Philippine Statistics Authority.