The proposed merger of the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines has become contentious – even bankers are divided for and against it.
Actually, this is not the first time the merger of the government financial institutions has come to fore.
In 2016, then President Noynoy Aquino issued an Executive Order merging the two government banks, which was approved by the House of Representatives but rejected by the Senate.
Then, during the administration of President Duterte, the Land Bank merged with the United Coconut Planters Bank. That was in 2021.
There are of course arguments for merging Land Bank and the DBP.
The creation of a behemoth financial institution, of the Land Bank and the DBP, will create a financial institution too big to fail.
But, a point of view, it can also bring difficulties.
First of all, Land Bank and the DBP have different mandates.
Land Bank primarily has mandate to reinforce the agricultural sector, while the DBP has mandate for the industrial and the export sectors.
With the Land Bank as the surviving bank, industry and export will naturally suffer. This is from the point of view of a mere journalist.
Secondly, I believe this plan to merge the Land Bank and the DBP is ill-timed because it comes at a time when the country is being threatened with so many crises — water, energy, food, especially climate change.
With this merger, the attention of respective agencies to attend to them would be divided.
There is also the need to concentrate on the demands of the agricultural sector, the main function of the Land Bank being to provide financial assistance, Santa Banana!
Then comes the problem of the Land Bank with its 10,000 workforce and the DBP with its 2,700 workforce.
This will naturally be a problem of redundancy, which will be another problem of people out of jobs, my gulay!
On the other hand, those in favor of the merger can cite advantages.
And there are as many for as those against the merger.
All in all, from my point of view as a journalist, it would do well for the economic and financial advisers of President Marcos to cut off the proposal to merge the Land Bank and the DBP following many more problems like the rising inflation which is hurting everybody, primarily the poor.
Another argument against a merger of the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines is this will necessarily create a behemoth financial institution with their combined branches, in almost every nook and corner of the country, which in effect will encroach on the coverage of private banks.
The biggest argument for the merger is the savings of P5.6 billion per year.
But, if we weigh the pros and cons of this merger, the cons far outweigh the pros.
If you ever go to any branch or the main building of DBP, don’t be surprised to see personnel wearing black or sporting black armbands,
They call it their “silent protest” against the merger and “show of protest and solidarity” because the merger would mean that the surviving bank will be the Land Bank.
Santa Banana, this in effect would put about 70 percent of the DBP employees out of jobs, as I said earlier, because of redundancy.
The “silent protest” commenced last Friday, April 28.
From one observation, the DBP is already caught in a net already squirming which sooner or later would mean the death of DBP, which means a merger can happen sooner or later, since all it needs is an executive order by the President.
How It All Started
I congratulate the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas on its 50th anniversary.
The KBP, a self-regulatory media organization, was actually organized at the height of Martial Law, when Martial Law was declared by then strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos on Sept 21, 1972 to stop the takeover of the country by the communist movement.
When Martial Law was declared, President Marcos Sr. formed the MAC or Media Advisory Council, of which I was a member, and then headed by Primitivo Mijares.
Mijares, who was closely associated with FM, was supposed to handle print media affairs.
I was then president of the Manila Overseas Press Club, in charge of the foreign press, and because I was then connected with the Kanlaon Broadcasting System, I was assigned to handle broadcast media.
The MAC was a very powerful entity at that time, and whatever the MAC would recommend would be policy during Martial Law.
With my designation as in-charge of broadcast (radio and television), I knew that broadcast was stifled and totally ineffective during Martial Law.
I thought of an idea, to create a self-regulatory body that could be outside the ambit of Martial Law.
I sold the idea to Kanlaon Broadcasting chairman Roberto S. Benedicto, with his network leading the organization.
RSB, as he was called, bought the idea and told me he would present it to then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and to FM. They agreed.
I then called all my friends in both radio and television to organize all those who agreed with my idea to form a self-regulatory body and help the government get outside the tainted image of press censorship.
Initially it started with only 19 members, including Bob Stewart’s Republic Broadcasting System, the precursor of GMA-7.
Thus, on April 27, 1973, the KBP was born, and since I was the organizer and founder, I was elected president.
I must congratulate the initial members of the KBP, who went on developing the KBP Code of Standards, the vision of the organization and its CREDO, which still stands to this date.
The organization of the KBP, to my mind, was my small contribution to press freedom, which was then the biggest argument against Martial Law when all the media outlets were closed when Martial Law was declared.
Again, my sincerest congratulations to the KBP, its officers and directors on their 50th Anniversary. They may have forgotten how the KBP started, but it has its story to tell.
A Push for a DDR once again
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go is one legislator who seems committed to the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience.
There are other things I admire about Bong Go, like being committed to helping fire victims and other victims of disasters.
He amazes me for having put up 156 Malasakit Centers nationwide, a one-stop center where the needy and the poor can go to seek assistance from the Philippine Sweepstakes Office, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. for hospitalization and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation for other financial assistance. It’s for all his commitment to the poor and needy that’s why I commend him . Since I am also in favor of the creation of a DDR, considering the fact the Philippines is one of the world’s most vulnerable not only to climate change but also to calamities and disasters, I believe a Department of Disaster Resilience is a “must” under any administration.
The precarious location of the country in the Ring of Fire makes the Philippines prone to destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The country is also one of the third most vulnerable to global temperature and sea level to climate change.
For these reasons I believe a DDR should be a priority of President Marcos Jr.
Senator Bong Go refiled Senate Bill 186 to create a specialized department solely responsible for managing the country’s response and mitigation efforts.
The DDR will focus on three areas: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness, and recovery and building.
I commend Bong Go.