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Biz Buzz: ‘Deposit with Landbank, or else …’

/ 12:37 AM September 14, 2015

THE PLAN of the Department of Finance to consolidate all deposits of local government units (LGUs) and state agencies into carefully vetted government financial institutions—with Land Bank of the Philippines being the bank of choice, we’re told—has been derailed by a small bank, which many people had already forgotten about.

To recall, the DOF recently issued an order telling all LGUs and government instrumentalities to move their bank deposits to GFIs with a universal bank license and a particular strength rating from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (conditions which narrow the field to a single bank, we’re told).

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In any case, a small and nearly forgotten financial institution called Philippine Postal Bank (yes, such a bank exists) allegedly went to the DOF to complain, basically saying that the order would spell the bank’s demise since its deposit base was almost exclusively sourced from government entities and LGUs.

“You might as well close us down,” one Postal Bank official supposedly told the DOF.

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As a result of this complaint—and not wanting too much adverse publicity about it—the DOF relented and modified its order, giving LGUs and state entities one year to comply with the order. But they may no longer add to their deposits with other entities during this period.

And this early, representatives of Landbank are already visiting various LGUs with account opening forms on hand with a just-sign-on-the-dotted-line-and-let’s-get-this-over-with attitude. LGU officials, faced with possible adverse Commission on Audit findings if they don’t comply, have been signing up grudgingly.

So what’s the motive behind this?

The order is ostensibly meant to make the fiscal operations of these government entities more efficient. But some naughty wags are saying that the order is part of a bigger plan to move billions of government deposits into Landbank and make it dwarf other GFIs like Development Bank of the Philippines—justification for having the former eat up the latter, we’re told.

And more importantly, it looks like DBP’s banking license (that will be freed up once it’s merged with Landbank) may have already been promised to a foreign financial institution, which wants to set up shop in the Philippines. Or so our naughty sources say. Daxim L. Lucas

 

Cable TV changes

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SOME big changes are happening at the cable television-only ABS-CBN News Channel or ANC.

It appears one of their top anchors, veteran journalist Coco Alcuaz, has left ANC after almost five years. Alcuaz, best known for anchoring ANC’s “Business Nightly” as well as the weekly program “Inside Business,” confirmed this recently with Biz Buzz.

Apparently, Alcuaz bagged a stint to head the Manila office of a global news organization based in New York as it seeks to establish roots in the Philippines.

Of course, Alcuaz’s long experience as a business journalist—before ANC, he was bureau chief of Bloomberg’s Manila division—leaves a dent in ABS-CBN’s all-day news channel. It also comes at a time when international rivals are coming into play, among them Bloomberg TV Philippines and CNN Philippines.

However, ANC managed to snag Catherine “Cathy” Yang as their “newest” anchor. Yang is not really new to ANC as she had been with the network in the ’90s before pursuing her international career.

Yang started just two weeks ago. ANC, we heard, is still on the lookout for new talent. Miguel R. Camus

No closure yet

IT AIN’T over till it’s over for this ex-chief of corporate communications at Standard Chartered Bank after losing the illegal dismissal lawsuit at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) en banc.

“This is certainly not the end but just the beginning. I am prepared for a long legal battle, if only to prove that no one is immune from bullying,” ex-Stanchart executive Maria Regina Cruz wrote to Biz Buzz.

An earlier ruling from the NLRC arbiter would have compelled the foreign bank to reinstate her and pay full back wages summing up to P10.92 million and 10 percent thereof for attorney’s fees (computed based on 36.4 months’ worth of the monthly wage of P300,000). This, however, was reversed by the NLRC en banc.

Cruz has thus filed an appeal for reconsideration, asking the NLRC to uphold the arbiter’s earlier award and to re-raffle the case. This is amid a separate motion for the inhibition she had filed in this case, noting that the original ponente was a law school classmate and fraternity brother of a partner at the law office that serves as counsel for Stanchart.

“Workplace bullying is very real and no one is immune, not even a cum laude graduate from UP. It is the height of misinformation to claim that a person of intelligence cannot be subjected to pressure and bullying. If at all, shaming and humiliating a person of excellent credentials makes it all the more unbearable and psychologically debilitating,” Cruz wrote.

On the reference by the court that this petition was an “afterthought,” having been filed two years after the events, Cruz said this only reflected a number of difficult considerations. “Aside from financial preparedness, I had to ensure I have the emotional and mental fortitude to fight a battle against a powerful enemy of deep pockets and extreme influence. This is the reason our laws provide a prescriptive period and I am surprised that the issue was even raised,” she said.

In her motion for reconsideration, Cruz said the NLRC should have re-raffled the case instead of replacing the original ponente with another commissioner of the same division. Given her pending motion for the inhibition of this original ponente, the petition said the fact that this person “took no part” was not equivalent to inhibition. “He still could have influenced the two remaining members of the commission by reason of close association inherent in a collegial body,” the petition said.

The petition said the NLRC failed to consider facts and circumstances, which she said would have proven her illegal dismissal: A “threat” from the bank CEO to give her a poor grade “without sufficient basis,” the “mentally distressing” impact of such grade and an alleged act of nepotism in installing a favored colleague to take her place.

Finally, the petition said the NLRC had erred in ruling that her receipt of a “huge amount” of separation pay was indicative of voluntary resignation. The kind expressions in her resignation letter likewise did not prove voluntariness, she said. “In a long line of cases, the Supreme Court has held that a resignation letter may be disregarded if the employer fails to prove that it was voluntary,” her petition said. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Email us at bizbuzz@inquirer.com.ph. Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).

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TAGS: ANC, Bank, Biz Buzz, Business, economy, Finance, illegal, Landbank, lawsuit, NLRC, Standard Chartered Bank, Television, TV
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