• 60% of banks in Samar, Leyte back in operations after ‘Yolanda’

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    Around 60 percent of banks in Leyte and Samar, which are among the hard-hit areas of Typhoon Yolanda, have resumed operation nearly two weeks after the super typhoon devastated most of Eastern Visayas.

    Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data show that of the total 171 banking offices in Leyte and Samar, 102 of these are back in operations as of November 21, 2013.

    On the other hand, only five of the 44 banking offices and branches located in Tacloban City, which is among the areas that suffered the most, resumed operations during the same period, BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said.

    In terms of the number of automated teller machines (ATMs), only 63 out of the 204 ATMs in the two provinces are now online.

    In the six provinces hit by the cyclone, namely Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Aklan, Capiz, and Palawan, 742 of the 855 banking offices have resumed operations while 931 of the 1,203 ATMs are now online.

    Espenilla said banks, especially those in Tacloban City, are finding it hard to re-open after the calamity because operations were “degraded significantly.”

    He said several factors like wiped-out equipment and employees who cannot return to work because they are calamity victims themselves are hindering the resumption of banking operations.

    “They need to bring in new ATMs among others because those being used before the typhoon were heavily destroyed,” he said.

    Espenilla said there were also cases where ATMs were ransacked and even taken from their locations but stressed that these are isolated cases.

    He, however, believes that most of the banks in Tacloban City will resume operations before the end of this year.

    Relatively, since the city suffered from heavy flooding due to the storm surge caused by Typhoon Yolanda, the central bank’s policy-making Monetary Board (MB) has approved a relief for banks not to require people doing banking transactions to present government-issued identification cards (IDs) until the end of this year.

    “This is intended for the banks to be considerate also of their clients especially on the approval of loans,” Espenilla said.

    The central bank official, however, said banks still need to be responsible in making sure that they are properly getting the background of the people they are transacting with. PNA

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