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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Public servants with fat paychecks amid a crisis

/ 04:05 AM June 29, 2022

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the highest-paid federal official in the most developed and powerful country in the world, whose earnings in 2020 amounted to $434,000 (P21 million or nearly P2 million per month). His counterpart in the Philippines in terms of earnings derived from “public service” is Benjamin Diokno, governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), whose salaries, allowances, and bonuses in 2021 totaled P41 million, thus making him the highest-paid “public servant” in this Third World country called the Philippines—about twice the total take of Fauci from that First World country!

One may ask, how could a poor and almost bankrupt country like ours afford such extravagance with taxpayer money? But, having so much money to last his family several lifetimes and now being tapped again by the incoming Marcos administration to take the helm of the Department of Finance to earn more millions per month, shouldn’t Diokno start serving the country for free out of patriotism? And with his colleagues at the BSP had already raked in all these years from P1.5 million to P2 million in earnings per month, can’t they make a similar gesture when the country is trying to recover economically, with millions of Filipinos starving to death? Sure, all that is perfectly legal, i.e., allowed by law. But there’s nothing to stop them from having the same sense of patriotism for once, is there?

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And what have those BSP officials done to debunk the public perception that they serve only the interest of billionaire bankers, to whom most form a line for more lucrative jobs after they retire from “public service”? Those billionaires continue to amass more billions from investments funded by millions of their depositors and loans charging interest at 25 to 30 percent per annum.

Citystate Savings Bank v. Tobias (March 7, 2018) held: “The contract between the bank and its depositor is governed by the provisions of the Civil Code on simple loan or mutuum, with the bank as the debtor and the depositor as the creditor.”

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Yet, when the depositor (creditor/lender) puts money in the bank (debtor/borrower), the BSP fixes the interest at the scandalous rate of less than half of one percent per annum! But the unkindest cut of all is the insurance limit set for bank accounts in case banks screw things up: P500,000. It happened to our family many years ago. We had P990,000-plus in the bank that went belly up due to mismanagement. We lost about P490,000. We have learned our lesson: BSP cannot be trusted to protect depositors’ interests. It didn’t even see the disaster coming despite its “monitoring” activities supposedly to look out for shenanigans banks were up to.

Henrico H. Laceda, [email protected]

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TAGS: corruption, health crisis
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