Landbank services to gov't employes, 4Ps, pensioners need improvement | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

Landbank services to gov’t employes, 4Ps, pensioners need improvement

/ 09:48 AM August 09, 2022

If you are a relative of government employees, you would have heard “horror stories” of “very poor” banking service and unresponsive feedback from the government-owned and operated Land Bank of the Philippines. Together with Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries and elderly pensioners, they are experiencing “unavailable ATM machines”, downtimes and outages, especially during “sweldo” time. It is becoming normal to see long lines of people in Landbank branches in Metro Manila.

We were told that on a per-day basis, Landbank can only service up to 1.1 million transactions in its banking operations nationwide. Clearly, this “service quota number” is not enough for all the daily transactions of more than 2 million government employees, about 4.4 million Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries and the 3.3-million indigent senior citizens.

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Why are they allowing this? Are they not aware that people need money due to present hard times yet they continue to inflict harm and delays? I was informed that in Landbank branches inside various government premises, depositor experiences are not too good. I should know, because two of our closest relatives draw their salaries from government.

Then the question, “why is Landbank limiting their daily transactions to just 1.1 million?” Is the bank trying to hold on, for a much longer time, to the billions of payroll money and social pension funds? Is this why this bank’s income during the first quarter this year surged to 94 percent or double to P20.3 billion? All because of increases in assets and “deposits”!

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Take for instance DSWD which remits every two months to Landbank the amount of P17 billion to distribute pension to all 4Ps members. Many are not getting their pension on time because of numerous banking problems earlier mentioned. The unreceived money therefore are left deposited and included in the bank’s assets. Was the 1.1 million daily transaction quota deliberate?

Landbank is the main and only government depository as it keeps the hard-earned salaries of almost all of the vast public sector thru its payroll system. All of them including the 4Ps beneficiaries and indigent senior citizens have no other choice.

I was informed that the declaration of President Bongbong Marcos to digitalize all 4Ps pension distribution may not materialize in the very near future. This is because Landbank’s digitization of cash cards are very slow and only moves at the banks’s leisure. In the past three months, I was told that only 12 percent of “cash cards” were distributed to approximately 399,000 people, done only on a per week basis. A very long way to go, because there are still 3,446,343 cash cards to be issued. This makes the President’s SONA promise of digitization a laughing stock.

Let us all see how PBBM will react after learning this real situation in Landbank’s service.

Act on rising food prices ASAP, Mr. President

We are barely past a month in this new administration, and as they say, are still in the honeymoon stage. The President has been on a biweekly meetings with members of his Cabinet, perhaps feeling his way through the vast government bureaucracy.

In the meantime, inflation has risen to 6.4 percent in July from 6.1 percent in June and PSA Chief Dennis Mapa says the cost of food basket may continue to rise in the coming weeks. Reportedly, the purchasing power of the P100-bill in 2018 is now only worth P87.

Recent reports say, sugar is at P100/kilo, white onions at P400/kilo, rice is up nearly P40-50/kilo, bread producers are seeking additional P4 in pandesal and tasty. Sardine makers hiked their prices and even in tiangges prices have spiralled, packed foods sold at P100 two months ago are now available at P150.

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Nothing bad about endless meetings and discussions with stakeholders, but the situation on the field needs immediate action. No one from the new administration says anything about rising prices nor stopping them. The Department of Trade and Industry has been blabberring about SRPs but nothing so far is being done. Even the Department of Agriculture looks the other way while prices of agricultural foods are rising in the markets.

Most people reasoned that the ongoing transition from old to new officials in all of the branches of government makes it less effective. PBBM’s new appointees they say are still learning the ropes and should be given more time.

But, sorry, people cannot wait for the next 90 days for this administration to act on life and death matters of our citizenry. The people who voted for BBM need directives, actions, announcements on these price increases. They need this now, and Malacañang should listen because, many fear the return of “meetinggitis” or “analysis-paralysis” in those long hours inside Palace walls. Is BBM, the same as former presidents who held endless meetings but were spineless?

In truth, the people are wary of arm-chair experts and desperately need decision makers now and for the next six years. Action, action, action. Many colleagues told me that they are beginning to miss the “conviction” and the “effective political will” of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

And to be honest, I too am dismayed by the slow learning process of this administration. But I continue to hope for the best while collecting various plaints and praises from all sectors. Time will come, perhaps in the near future, when this column will probably shout out, “PBBM, hoy gising!”

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