BIZ BUZZ: Protest action against PNB
The privatization deal happened over two decades ago, but its effects are still being felt to this day, especially by former employees who say they have been deprived of their rightful benefits.
We’re talking about the sale by the government of Philippine National Bank (PNB) to billionaire businessman Lucio Tan in the early 2000s, which saw the state financial institution become a private entity.
Today, PNB retirees around the country plan to hold simultaneous protests at the bank’s Pasay city headquarters and branches from Luzon to Mindanao to demand for what they say the legal system—from regional trial courts, all the way to the Supreme Court—says is due them: compensation as retired government employees.
Specifically, the retirees was to be paid a regular lifetime pension by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) instead of the one-time gratuity from the bank as part of its privatization.
In various online fora, members of the retirees’ group say that the nationwide protest action is necessary since PNB’s management has not acted upon their concerns despite the courts having ruled in favor of the former employees all these years.
“We reached this point/situation because of apathy/lack of concern by our former employer, which we served with utmost dedication and loyalty over the years,” said one post on Facebook by one of the group’s members, Miguel Borja Valeza.
While the GSIS board of directors decided many years ago that the PNB retirees are not eligible for state pensions, this position has been overruled by the courts.
The retirees are raising a total of six issues against their former employer, one issue against the GSIS, and are supporting proposed legislation that will grant them a government pension.
Interestingly enough, GSIS is now headed by former PNB president Wick Veloso who was appointed by President Marcos last year to be the state pension fund’s president and general manager, so it bears watching where his sympathy lies on this issue.
Even more interesting is the fact that PNB is juggling several internal issues with bank regulators, ranking officials, and even among its controlling shareholders right now. It will be interesting to watch how all these things play out. Abangan!