Losing an illustrious son

February 28, 2019

The collective, institutional grief felt throughout the hallowed halls of the Bangko Sentral is inconsolable as it is explainable.

After all, this is the first time over the last four decades that the BSP family lost a sitting governor to a serious, debilitating disease, about the same period that PedXing serially tried to keep track of banking and monetary developments in the country.

Gov. Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. was quietly, prodigiously presiding over his agenda for a more technology-savvy, responsive, and forward looking monetary authority when the cold grasp of the tomb swiftly yanked him away from the helm of the BSP.

A young final financial technology start-up founder/head honcho and industry leader personally grieved the demise of the BSP chief, who had been in and out of office only for the last two years, and immortalized him as a “fin-tech champion”.

When he rose to the top BSP position on his own wings as a career BSP Executive, Espenilla earned a reputation as a benign financial regulator—not a strict and unforgiving banking, credit, and currency enforcer.

No major banking or financial institution went belly up under his watch.

Banks and quasi-banking units went through a rare period of relatives strength and stability when he headed the Supervision and Examination Department of the BSP such industry-wide resiliency persists up to the present and is likely to last over the long term, thanks to the firm policy foundation he laid.  

The fact that official assurances of “continuity of work” have been enunciated by his deputies and other ranking BSP officials speaks a lot about both the legacy and the unfinished agenda he left behind.

Nesting, as the dearly departed BSP chief is fondly called, left and exciting, challenging chapter in the country’s banking history.

He was only 60, to be sure the first of PedXing’s generation to assume such lofty post.

Rest in peace, Gov. you left behind a stronger banking industry, a resilient economy, a dignified nation, and a grateful country men.

Goodbye and thank you.

***

How does a large government institution say adieu to an illustrious son?

With profuse and profound expression of gratitude and respect.

Following is the final BSP family tribute and sendoff to Espenilla:

It is with deep sadness that the Monetary Board announced that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and Chairman of the Monetary Board Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr.  peacefully passed away on 23 February 2019 surrounded by members of his family. The Governor, 60, had been undergoing treatment for cancer for more than a year.

Governor Espenilla was appointed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 3 July 2017. He concurrently served as ex-officio Chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Philippine International Convention Center and the Financial Stability Coordination Council.

Under his leadership, the BSP continued to pursue major reforms under the theme “Continuity Plus Plus” covering monetary and financial policies, as well as the BSP organizational structure.  He also spearheaded the digitalization of the retail payment system in the country for a more inclusive and efficient financial system.

During his tenure, the amendments to the BSP charter were finally passed, strengthening the capability of the central bank to deliver its mandate to promote price and financial stability and to foster a safe, efficient and inclusive payment system.

In a special meeting held on the same day, the Monetary Board designated Deputy Governor Maria Almasara Cyd Tuaño-Amador as BSP Officer-in-Charge effective immediately until such time that President Rodrigo Duterte shall have designated an OIC or appointed a successor.  

Prior to his appointment as Governor, he was Deputy Governor in charge of the Supervision and Examination Sector, which supervises banks and non-bank financial institutions under BSP jurisdiction.

In that capacity, he focused on banking supervision, capital market development, credit policy, and financial inclusion.  He institutionalized risk-based and proportionate regulations, enabling BSP-supervised institutions to innovate business models and adopt digital financial services.  He likewise championed the issuance of regulations that promote financial inclusion and consumer protection. He used to describe himself as “homegrown” having joined the central bank in 1981.  

He had a bachelor of science degree in business economics, graduating magna cum laude, an MBA from the University of the Philippines, and a master of science degree in policy science from the Graduate Institute of Policy Science in Tokyo, Japan.  He is survived by his wife, Maria Teresita Festin Espenilla, daughter, Jacqueline Joyce and son-in-law, Ben Baltazar, sons Nikko Nestor and Leonardo Nestor and grandchild, Zev Eron.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, amen.