Banks appeal to public for patience, understanding
The banking community appealed to the public to bear with limited services at this time that financial institutions are themselves operating under a challenging environment with only a skeleton workforce.
The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), for and on behalf of its member-banks, expressed support to the government’s efforts to immediately arrest and contain the COVID-19 pandemic and assured the public that its members would continuously provide critical services amid difficulties and challenges during the lockdown of Luzon and other parts of the country.
Despite operating on skeleton workforce, the BAP noted that member-banks have kept some branches open, automated teller machines (ATMs) working and the financial markets going. “We are committed to delivering these services to ensure the continuity of the flow of goods and services, which are even more vital at this time,” the BAP said in a press statement.
“Given the limited personnel that the banks can deploy during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, we appeal to the public for your patience and understanding in availing yourself of your financial requirements during these extraordinary circumstances,” the group added.
The BAP said its member-banks were doing “exceptional measures” to ensure the continuity of access to banking services in the most efficient and sustainable manner.
With mass transportation on a standstill during the lockdown of Luzon and other areas in the country, many of these institutions have made private arrangements to bring their personnel to various branches. For branches that remain operational at this time, strict social distancing is observed.
“Now, more than ever, the public’s cooperation and understanding are needed and crucial in mitigating this health crisis,” the BAP said.
“During these times, we also have families and friends to take care of. We cannot be reckless. We can’t go the extra mile like we used to. Most of my colleagues have to be picked up and ferried home just to be able to serve in branches. We have guards, messengers and janitors helping us and we are taking care of our own extended family,” veteran banker Eugene Acevedo, president of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said on a Facebook post.
“Go online. Be digital. It is safer for you as well,” Acevedo added.
While banks remained open to service the banking needs of clients during the enhanced community quarantine prevailing in Luzon, the country’s largest bank, BDO Unibank, encouraged the heightened use of online banking service to protect the public from the spread of the pandemic.
“We urge our online banking users to share and teach their family and friends how to sign up and use BDO Online Banking so they can bank safely from home,” BDO said.
“We have taken measures to ensure the continuous operation of our 1,013 ATMs and the availability of cash in these ATMs to the extent practicable while ensuring the health and safety of our employees and service providers,” China Bank president William Whang said in a letter to clients.
Whang hailed the hard work and sacrifice of the bank’s employees and staff manning its branches, together with the skeleton workforce in its operating and support units. “They have made possible the continued functioning of key units, despite the serious challenges arising from the enhanced quaranrine measures. We reiterate our commitment to ensure the safety and well-being of our workforce,” he said.
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