The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) on Wednesday welcomed its newly elected officers and directors for fiscal year 2015-2016 at its inauguration and induction ceremony held at the Sofitel Philippines Plaza, Manila.
Enrique Abellana, president of the Rural Bank of Barili (Cebu) Inc., was sworn in as the 51st president of the association.
Abellana replaced Jose Misael Moraleda, who will now sit as the chairman of RBAP’s technical arm, Rural Bankers Research and Development Foundation Inc. (RBRDFI).
In his first speech as president of the RBAP, Abellana stressed the importance of “transformation,” a necessary step for rural banks to cope with current competition in the countryside.
He said commercial and thrift banks are now penetrating the rural areas, considered as the home turf of rural banks, by buying out a few member-banks of RBAP.
“To remain competitive, we will have to invest more in technology and introduce more products . . . it seems that this ‘transformation’ is no longer a feeling we could simply shake off. It is now a need, a requirement, that each one of us must seriously respond to,” Abellana added.
Despite this challenge of being underdogs in terms of scale, he said, rural banks are capable of growing in a competitive environment as shown by recent Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data.
The report showed that the industry’s assets grew to P203.8 billion in 2014 from P188.4 in 2013. Total loan portfolio also expanded to P128.3 billion last year from P121.9 billion from the previous year. Total domestic deposits increased to P144.5 billion in 2014 from P135.6 billion in 2013.
In his speech, Abellana disclosed new programs initiated by regulators that will “empower rural banks.”
He cheered the BSP’s program that will offer incentives to banks planning to establish micro-banking offices in unbanked areas. This program will also allow micro-banking offices to process new products such as education, health and emergency loans.
Abellana also cited the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp.’s (PDIC) new two-year Consolidation Program for Rural Banks (CPRB) that will help rural banks be better positioned to improve financial strength, enhance long term viability and generate better returns.
For this year’s inauguration, BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. served as the inducting officer.
The other inductees are BHF Rural Bank Inc. president Dr. Amando Bonifacio as vice president for Luzon; Rural Bank of Malitbog Inc. president Lorenzo Veloso as vice president for the Visayas; and Rural Bank of Digos assistant vice president Giovanni Gabriento as vice president for Mindanao.
Banco Alabang president Zacarias de Vera Jr. is installed as treasurer, while Malarayat Rural Bank vice president Antonio Pasia and Rural Bank of Rizal president Alberto Concha are assistant treasurer and corporate secretary, respectively.
Named as RBAP directors are Rural Bank of Gattaran president Gualberto Agatep Jr.; BOF Inc. senior executive vice president Susan Jesusa David-Ngunga; New Rural Bank of San Leonardo president Abundio Quililan Jr.; Cebuana Lhuillier Rural Bank Inc. president Leo Escano; Rural Bank of San Jose (C.S.) Inc. vice president Tim James Monasterio; Maraya Bank Inc. chairman of the board Franklin Fuentebella; Cantilan Bank Inc.
president BG Charles Hotchkiss; and Rural Bank of Kiamba Inc. president Teresa Soccorro Falgui.