MANILA, Philippines - Even employees of Banco Filpino Savings and Mortgage bank are now in limbo as they await the results of an investigation by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation into the bank's dealings.
A day after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) placed the thrift bank under the receivership of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC), the bank employees, totalling around 900, face uncertainties especially about their work status, salaries, and benefits.
The PDIC, the state deposit insurer, decided to suspend all bank employees while bank records are investigated.
The PDIC took over the bank on March 17, the same day the BSP declared the thrift bank close after withdrawals were not serviced and checks not funded.
"They are all suspended," PDIC executive vice president Cristina Orbeta told a press conference on Friday.
Employees who have spent longer years working at the bank are concerned about their retirement pay.
"Twenty years na ko [working at Banco Filipino]. Magre-retire na ako. Paano kaya ito?" a visibly upset Banco Filipino employee shared to ABS-CBN News.
But the PDIC is still holding off actions on these until they complete their investigation. "Yung retirement, titignan pa natin," said Orbeta.
Some of the employees have deposits tied up with the bank. Even they were caught by surprise by Banco Filipino's closure.
"Wala nga kaming kaalam-alam. Pati yung pera namin sa bangko, hindi namin na-withdraw," another employee said.
PDIC's investigation will likely last for 4 months.
According to the PDIC, it has also taken over Banco Filipino's lending operations. This means that all of the bank's clients with outstanding loans need to continue their debt payments.
"We also remind the borrowers of the bank that they still need to settle their outstanding loans. They should make payments only to authorized deputies or designated PDIC accounts in the Philippine National Bank. Only payments with official PDIC receipts will be credited to the account of the borrower," according to Cristina Orbeta, executive vice president of the PDIC.
The PDIC will hold a depositors forum next week.
Concerned depositors and borrowers can contact the PDIC through the following hotlines: 8414630 or 8414631
According to the BSP on Thursday, 97% of Banco Filipino's account holders have P500,000 or less in their deposit accounts, making them eligible to claim deposit insurance from the PDIC.
About 53% of Banco Filipino's depositors have P5,000 or less balances in their accounts, the BSP explained.
That includes Joseph Gumba who has been constantly returning to Banco Filipino despite the bank being closed since Tuesday.
On Friday, he was finally allowed inside his branch of account, but still came out empty handed.
Joseph has P1,000 in the bank, a significant amount for a small-time vegetable vendor like him.
"Malaking bagay yun. Saan ka kukuha nun? Kahit sa pagtitinda, nagsisikap ako para makapag-ipon masakit po, kukulangin po ang pagkain naming magkakapatid," he said.
Another depositor, Lucy Bernadido sells P10-worth hamburgers. Her supplies have been depleted and she needs to withdraw her P11,000 money from her bank account in the bank.
Johnny Laureta also needs money for his daughter's graduation. He says the P5,000 in his deposit account represents 5 years of savings from his job as a painter.
"Kahit papaano, nagtamlay po ako. Siyempre mahalaga ho sa amin yun," he said.
They are mulling how and where to get money elsewhere.
"Probably sa 5-6 (usurer)?" Gumba said. -- from a report of Henry Omaga-Diaz and Jenny Reyes, ABS-CBN News