When I proudly posted about Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. being one of our distinguished PHILAJAMES members on our FB page on June 22, 2018, I didn’t know he had been afflicted with throat cancer and was undergoing treatments for it. He was quite visible, often being interviewed and issuing statements about the global financial outlook and our local situation. Indeed he remained active for as long as he could manage in the service of the agency he had served all his life.

Banking was always in Masbate-born Nesting’s blood. When he was 10 his mother established the Rural Bank of San Jacinto (Masbate), Inc., a small rural bank that now has several branches. After his studies at the University of the Philippines–graduating with a B.S. degree in Business Economics (magna cum laude) in 1981, he immediately went to work at the BSP as a debt analyst.

He finished his MBA honors degree at UP in 1982, then obtained his Master of Science degree in Policy Science from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, Japan in 1988 under a Monbusho grant. Meanwhile he took on more responsible posts at the BSP until he was appointed governor by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 8, 2017. He assumed office on July 3, 2017 and served only until his death on February 23, 2019 but his service and accomplishments were well respected locally and internationally and remain so.

Before he became BSP governor, Espenilla was known as a conservative and became known for some high profile financial mismanagement cases that he always handled with a tough hand. He is probably remembered most for slapping RCBC with a P1 billion fine for their role in the Bangladesh (Central) Bank cyber heist of 2016. As governor he is acknowledged as a champion for the inclusion of more Filipinos in our financial systems and as the leader in the establishment of the National Retail Payment System (NRPS), a framework which will be used for the Philippines’ gradual shift from cash and check-based payments to electronic means.

During his tenure the BSP Charter was amended to be more in tune with current practices and flexible to opportunities. Congress passed the act amending the BSP Charter in 2018 and Pres. Duterte signed the act into law just a week before Gov. Espenilla’s death. The law is widely seen as a support mechanism for price and financial stability.

by Belinda Perez

Gov. Espenilla’s Legacy

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