The bet is on

In the last couple of weeks, the noise circulating in almost all social media platforms, be it twitter, facebook, instagram, including viber, revolved around a looming cabinet revamp as the one-year prohibition on those who run and lost in the 2022 election can now be engaged to join the government.

While Malacanang remained muted and took the “neither confirm nor deny” stance to defuse the noise, my lion’s ear gathered that Michael “Mike” T. Defensor, former congressman, secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, is being considered as executive secretary.

Heard as well is the resolve of the President to relinquish the agriculture portfolio and among the names most likely to be engaged is Arthur “Art” Yap. If ever, Mr. Art will be returning to the Department of Agriculture, his turf for four years before wore the politician’s hat as representative of the 3rd district of Bohol, then later as governor.

Both gentlemen have one common denominator: they lost in their 2022 political bid: Mr. Mike as Quezon City mayor and Mr. Arthur as governor re-electionist.

Also included in the names possibly joining the government is Gilbert C. Teodoro, Jr. He is rumoured to be the incoming Secretary of the Department of National Defense.

This noise goes louder because the buzz going around the banking community is that Mr. Gilbert will no longer be eligible to sit in the board of BDO Unibank. Appointed on April 25, 2014, he has already hit the nine-year ceiling for an independent director.

Likewise, the bet is on in the business and banking community on who will be the next Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor as the term of Gov. Felipe “Philip” M. Medalla is set to end July 3.

As we all know, Gov. Philip is serving the remaining year of the six-year term of a BSP Gov., which that with Nestor “Nesting” A. Espenilla, who passed on a little over 19 months after assuming the position. Benjamin “BED” E. Diokno succeeded him but was tapped to steer the Department of Finance (DOF), passing the baton to Gov. Philip.

Actually, it’s not only Gov. Philip who will be waving his goodbye to the BSP come July 3. There are three others. It’s ciao time as well for Mr. Eli Remolona, Jr., the youngest, in terms of tenure that is, in the seven-man Monetary Board. Mr. Eli is serving the unserved term of Gov. Philip. He may be relatively new in government service but his extensive knowledge and experience in international policy and central banking are beyond compare.

Rounding up the three are seasoned and veteran bankers Antonio “Tony” S. Abacan and Peter B. Favila. Mr. Tony is completing his six-year tenure and 12-years for Mr. Peter, joining MB in 2008 as national government and in 2010 to 2014 as full time MB member. He was re-appointed for another six years in July 2017.

With two months and five days to go, the bet is on who will be the next resident of Room 501. Will he be homegrown like Governor Amado “Say” Tetangco, Gov. Nesting and Gov. Gabriel C. Singson, the first to steer the financially revitalized and autonomous BSP?

If it’s homegrown, will it be a first woman governor? There are two ladies in the roster of deputy governors, one is Ms. Chuchi Fonacier, is head of the financial supervision sector, responsible for the regulation of banks and other supervised financial institutions, and Bernadette “Berna” Romulo-Puyat, who has been around in the government service circle. She was undersecretary of Agriculture before she was tapped to head the Tourism department.

The three others are Francisco G. Dakila, Jr. for the monetary and economic sector; Mamerto Tangonan for the payment and currency management sector; and Eduardo G. Bobier for the corporate services sector.

Rumour has it that the SecFin BED, who also sits in MB as government representative, could be crossing back again to the five-storey building. Though there’s an emerging legal opinion there is no prohibition on the re-appointment of Gov. Philip. Such may as well cover MB Peter, who’s in the line-up.

The names of former BPI president now chair of Far Eastern University, Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola and Jose Arnulfo “Wick” Veloso also emerged as possible MB members. At the sametime, Mr. Wick is reportedly being considered to take the SecFin portfolio should Mr. BED goes back to BSP.

As the rumour mills continue to churn, one thing is sure Mr. Gigi's preference now is in education, with banking taking a second seat. “I would like to focus more on education.”

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