The Musical Chair

Published July 1, 2022, 6:50 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

Alongside with the assumption into office of the country’s 17thh President, there’s scheduled changing of the guards as well in the banking community, more importantly in the hallowed halls of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The merry-making musical chair starts with Benjamin E. Diokno bidding goodbye to the BSP corridors by walking through the pathways of the neighborhood Department of Finance Wednesday.  

His fellow UP economist Felipe Medalla, along with some members of the monetary board, escorted him to witness the turnover ceremony from SecFin Carlos G. Dominguez III.

The changing of the guards continues with Professor Medalla finally setting foot at Room 501 at the BSP, the coveted room in the five-storey building of  the BSP complex, this time as its newest resident and maybe the shortest one.

Gov. Medallla is bringing along the ever-reliable, dependable Assistant Governor Edna C. Villa as his chief of staff (COS). AG Edna is some kind of “balikbayan” of sort in 501 and the COS role is virtually a walk in the park for her, having spent 11.5 years as COS of BSP Gov. Amado M. Tetangco.

On the other hand, rumors going around the complex along Roxas Boulevard is SecFin Diokno preening his eyes on Director for Research Zeno Abenojar to be a participant of the musical chair. Being dangled is the undersecretary for Policy Development and Management Services Group that was vacated following the retirement of Gil Beltran.

It’s most likely that Mr. Beltran may be retained as president of the Philippine Tax Academy (PTA), a post he assumed last March but his services, though, ended yesterday as well. The SecFin is the chair of the PTA Board of Trustees.

The possible transfer of Mr. Abenojar is good for his career. It’s tempting as you climb the ladder to success. However, truth be told, like SecFin Diokno, crossing over to the better view of the Manila Bay sunset is actually a sacrifice relative to one’s bottomline.

BSP remuneration scale is out of the salary standardization program. For the research director, it’s a very touchy and painful as this involves a 90 percent reduction in take-home pay. This goes as well for SecFin Diokno.

Another possible participant in the musical chair is Managing Director Antonio Joselito G. Lambino of the “Anak ng Pasig” fame. The rumor mill has it that former BSP AG Lilia Guillermo, now Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner, is wooing him to be her spokesperson.

This is a bit sensitive and disconcerting issue from the perspective of the BSP working force considering that the managing director for strategic, communications and advocacy was precisely created for him to be able to transfer from DOF.

And like Mr. Abenojar, he will suffer a salary cut. The latest I’ve heard is that they’re looking at a secondment, which is a temporary work placement in another area that can either be external or internal.

Being “seconded” actually needs some sort of a special order from the Palace. As the wheels of governance continue to churn, from what I’ve heard, this may easily be hurdled.

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