Palace thanks late central bank chief Espenilla for 'great service to nation'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2019 10:41 AM | Updated as of Feb 24 2019 10:51 AM

MANILA - Malacañang on Sunday thanked late Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. for his "great service to the nation."

Espenilla, whose 4-decade career in the central bank started in debt analysis, succumbed to a yearlong battle with tongue cancer on Saturday. He was 60.

The late official "was best remembered by the ordinary Juan de la Cruz for making financial services closer to Filipinos who - we are all aware -- transact mostly using non-bank channels," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Espenilla pioneered an electronic fund transfer system called InstaPay and an automated clearing house dubbed PESONet under a broader regulatory framework, the National Retail Payment System, he noted.

These "saw the Philippines' gradual shift from cash and check-based payment to electronic means," Panelo said in a statement.

"As we express our condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and loved ones of Governor Espenilla, we express our gratitude to the man once in charge of disciplining banks for his complete devotion to his work and great service to the nation," said the Palace official.

"Rest in peace, Governor Nesting," he added.

Espenilla was appointed in 2005 as BSP deputy governor for the supervision and examination sector, in charge of disciplining banks. In 2017, he was tapped by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the central bank.

Under Espenilla's watch, the Monetary Board raised the benchmark interest rate by 1.75 points in 5 successive policy meetings, bringing the overnight borrowing rate used by banks to price loans to 4.75 percent from 3 percent.

Espenilla announced his cancer diagnosis in February 2018 and said he underwent radiation therapy. He disclosed then that he was declared "cancer-free" by his doctors after surgery, and that he expected ""more or less a full recovery in a month or so." He said the radiation therapy was for "insurance."

He resumed his duties as central bank chief late last month after taking another medical leave for more than 2 weeks in January.

In a special meeting held on Saturday, the BSP said the "Monetary Board designated Deputy Governor Almasara Cyd Tuano-Amador as BSP Officer-in-Charge (OIC) effective immediately until such time that President Rodrigo Duterte shall have designated an OIC or appointed a successor."

Espenilla graduated magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics, as well as an MBA.

He also finished a Master of Science degree in Policy Science from the Graduate Institute of Policy Science (GRIPS) in Tokyo, Japan.

He was survived by his wife, Maria Teresita Festin Espenilla; daughter, Jacqueline Joyce, and son-in-law, Ben Baltazar; sons Nikko Nestor and Leonardo Nestor; and, grandchild, Zev Eron, the BSP added.