President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Finance to expedite the vetting of candidates for the board members of the Overseas Filipino Bank, the Palace said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the order was made after the Department of Labor and Employment raised concerns on the savings bank for Overseas Filipino Workers.
“The DOLE raised the concern on the Overseas Filipino Bank wherein there are still no appointments made on its board. The President [then] instructed the DOF to review these appointments,” he said in a statement.
“Further, [the] DOF said that it’s trying to make the said bank a digital one, so that it will be easier for OFWs to use their smartphones in all of their transactions,” he added.
As promised, the Chief Executive launched the said bank dedicated to address the financial needs of Filipino migrant workers and their families. However, since its launching in January last year, the bank remains non-operational.
Asked on the matter, the Palace said the vetting and appointment for the members of the board caused the delay.
“[Labor] Secretary [Silvestre] Bello [III said no one has been appointed yet as members of the board. That’s why the President told them [DOF] to quicken the vetting, so that he can appoint,” Panelo said.
According to the Palace official, the delay in the operations of the said bank was only “natural” in the government.
“You know, because of the workload in the government, it’s only natural,” he said. Nevertheless, Panelo said the Duterte administration prioritizes the concerns of the OFWs.
“As soon as the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance is there, the President will appoint,” he said. “And as soon as there is an appointment with the three members of the board, that will immediately be operational with a quorum.”
In September 2017, the Chief Executive signed Executive Order No. 44, turning the Philippine Postal Savings Bank into the OFB.
The bank shall serve as a “policy bank dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirements of overseas Filipinos”.
Under the said EO, the OFB will be managed by a 9-member Board of Directors composed of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) President as OFB Chairperson; LBP-designated OFB President as Vice Chairperson; four LBP-designated directors or officers as members; and one representative each from the DOLE, its attached agency the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the private sector representing overseas Filipinos, as members.