MANILA - (UPDATED) Colleagues and friends in the banking and financial industry mourned the loss of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla, who passed away Saturday after battling cancer.
The BSP lauded Espenilla for pursuing reforms in monetary and financial policies, as well as the BSP organizational structure.
Espenilla, the BSP said, spearheaded the digitalization of the retail payment system in the country for a more inclusive and efficient financial system.
"During his tenure, the amendments to the BSP charter were finally passed, strengthening the capability of the central bank to deliver its mandate to promote price and financial stability and to foster a safe, efficient and inclusive payment system," the central bank added.
Former central bank chief Jose Cuisia said the country lost a distinguished professional central banker who was determined to prepare the Philippines’ banking system to adapt to a digital economy.
Cuisia also praised Espenilla's push for financial inclusion to benefit the lowest income groups in the country.
"He has to be credited, together with his predecessor Gov. Armando Tetangco, for having strengthened the Philippine banking system through the prudential measures that he introduced and enhancing its reputation in the region,” Cuisia said.
The Bankers Association of the Philippines said Espenilla's leadership resulted in progressive reforms that now support a stronger Philippine banking system.
"His legacy and dedication to the BSP and its constituencies will never be forgotten and his work will be a foundation in building a stronger Philippine banking industry for future generations," the BAP said.
The Bank Marketing Association of the Philippines called Espenilla an "upstanding leader."
"He collaborated closely with industry associations like BMAP, to push for his advocacies such as financial inclusion and electronic payments," BMAP said.
Standard Chartered Bank said Espenilla "was a passionate and collaborative reformer."
"The Governor's valuable contributions go beyond his key initiatives to strengthen central bank capabilities," said Standard Chartered Bank CEO Lynette Ortiz.
The Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines called the late central bank chief "an exemplary public servant who heeded the call of duty even when he was grappling with his own health issues."
EJAP said Espenilla’s nearly four-decade service to the country was marked by dogged banking supervision while pioneering the use of digital means to achieve financial inclusion.
"Even as we mourn, we urge President Rodrigo Duterte to ease market uncertainties by promptly filling the void with someone just as suitable and committed to the BSP’s mandate of price and financial stability - one who can hit the ground running and ensure policy continuity," the group said.
The BSP said it has designated Deputy Governor Almasara Cyd Tuano-Amador as Officer-in-Charge while waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte to designate an OIC or appoint a successor.
Malacañang on Sunday said it mourned Espenilla's loss and thanked late central bank chief for his "great service to the nation."