Not a banker, please, for BSP governor

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Emeterio Sd. Perez

AMANDO M. Tetangco Jr. is a central banker. He joined the central bank in 1974 according to his profile posted on www.bsp.gov.ph. He was appointed governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in 2005 by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now a member of the House of Representatives. A good choice because as BSP chief, he did not have vested interests to protect.

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This assessment does not mean I am either endorsing or opposing the appointment of lawyer Perfecto R. Yasay Jr. as Tetangco’s successor. Having been his corroborative witness during the impeachment trial in 2001 of then president Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who is now Manila mayor, I am not in a position to comment on his qualifications to head the BSP.

Yasay first joined government service when he was appointed associate commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1993 by President Fidel V. Ramos. He was the SEC chairman from 1995 to 2000.

Tetangco, who is not yet 65 years old, may qualify to serve a third term as BSP governor only if the New Central Bank Act, or Republic Act 7653, is amended.

As provided for in the law, a BSP governor is limited to only two six-year terms. Tetangco was appointed to his second term in 2011 by President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd.

Insiders’ promotions

Lawyer Emilio Benito Aquino is the first appointee of President Duterte to the SEC’s five-person regulatory body. He is a former SEC insider, having served the commission in various capacities from 1993 to 2005.

The appointment of Aquino as SEC commissioner illustrates the priority given by Mr. Duterte to career officials for promotion to higher ranks.

Will Mr. Duterte apply a similar policy at BSP when Tetangco’s second and final six-year term expires on July 2? Hopefully he would, for the continuity of the central bank’s existing policies that are now in place. Should he exercise his prerogative to appoint Tetangco’s successor, he would, in effect, be favoring anyone among BSP insiders whose promotions are derailed when an outsider becomes the governor.

The appointment as central bank chief of anyone from within the BSP would create a series of promotions of insiders starting from deputy governors down the line of employees with civil service eligibility.

BSP’s deputy governors

Should Mr. Duterte decide to promote anyone among the BSP’s deputy governors, well and good. He would be giving an encouraging hope to ALL government workers that, finally, here is a president who recognizes their role as public servants by rewarding them with well-deserved promotions.

The question though is, will he duplicate what he had done at SEC when he appointed Aquino as commissioner? Although not a department head, the newest member of the five-person commission is, however, a former SEC insider.

Back to BSP. Tetangco has a good team to provide him support in implementing the policies of the Monetary Board that he heads as chairman. These are the deputy governors, namely (in alphabetical order): Vicente S. Aquino, resource management sector and security plant complex; Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., supervision and examination sector; and Diwa C. Guinigundo, monetary stability sector.

Again, I am not making a choice among the three deputies of Tetangco. As the appointing power, the President may promote a BSP insider to the governorship or opt for an outsider. Hopefully, his choice won’t be a banker, who may be loaded with vested interests.

Insider’s advantage

I am not endorsing anyone among the BSP’s deputy governors as Tetangco’s successor. I believe, however, that the promotion of career public officials to the next higher rank in any government agency is more appropriate. It would create a chain of promotions that usually stop when an outsider is chosen.

In the case of retiring officials, or those whose terms have ended, they leave behind unfinished projects that are familiar only to insiders. It is not that an outsider won’t do well, but why frustrate the chances of civil servants to rise from the ranks?

Again, it is up to the President to decide who fits aptly to the responsibilities of public service. Is it an insider or an outsider?

Mrs. Arroyo broke tradition by appointing Tetangco as BSP governor. Hopefully, Mr. Duterte will not go back to the old habit of naming a banker as BSP governor. Just a suggestion.

esdperez@gmail.com

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