BDO – Bangkong Dambuhala ng Overseas Filipinos

by Crispin Fernandez, MD

| Photo via BDO

The Land Bank of the Philippines is a government financial institution that balances its social mandate of promoting countryside development while remaining financially viable. This dual function makes the Land Bank unique. The profits derived from its commercial banking operations finance the bank’s developmental programs and initiatives.

Over the years, Land Bank has successfully managed this tough balancing act as evidenced by the continued expansion of its loan portfolio in favor of its priority sectors: the small farmers and fishers, a good part of which are agrarian reform beneficiaries; micro and SMEs; agri- and aqua-projects of local government units and government-owned and controlled corporations; communications, transportation, housing, education, health care, environment-related projects, tourism, and utilities. The Land Bank is the largest formal credit institution in rural areas. It also ranks among the top five commercial banks in the country in terms of deposits, assets, and loans.

The United Coconut Planters Bank, more popularly known by its initials, UCPB, or by its old name, Cocobank, was a government-owned bank and was one of the largest banks in the Philippines, ranking within the top twenty banks in the country in terms of assets. It was the only universal bank not listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange. The bank, owing to its name, catered heavily to coconut farmers and served a wide-ranging clientele. In July 2020, the Philippine government raised its stake in the bank to 97%, thus resulting in its conversion to a government-controlled bank.

On March 1, 2022, UCPB merged with the Land Bank of the Philippines, with the Land Bank as the surviving entity.

Amanah Islamic Bank was first established as “Philippine Amanah Bank” by Presidential Decree No. 264 by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The decree required the bank to invest 75% of its total loanable funds to provide, among others, reasonable medium and long-term credit facilities to the people of the Muslim-dominated provinces of Cotabato, South Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Palawan. Thus, the bank has been transformed into a development bank with an initial capitalization of P50 million. In 1974, Presidential Decree No. 542 was issued, directing the bank to implement the Islamic banking concept, following the “no interest” and the partnership principles. This directive was thoroughly carried out because conventional banking still dominated the bank’s operations.

In 1990, the bank became primarily Islamic by signing Republic Act No. 6848, otherwise known as the Charter of Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines (AAIIBP). The new charter provided the bank with an authorized capital stock of P1 billion consisting of 10 million common shares. The bank’s mandate is to promote and accelerate the socio-economic development of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) through banking, financing, and participating in agricultural, commercial, and industrial ventures based on Islamic banking.

“The seed for this bank has been planted in 2017 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Executive Order 44. It is now up to President BongBong Marcos to take the final initiative and see the future of the Overseas Filipino Bank to its full potential and unleash the financial success story of his generation and the Filipino people.”

Sy-led conglomerate SM Investments Corporation saw double-digit growth in its bottom line in the first nine months of 2023 due to strong consumer demand. In a Wednesday disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, SM Investments reported a net income of P55.9 billion during the January–September period, up 30% from P42.9 billion booked in the same period last year.

BDO Unibank, Inc., commonly known as Banco de Oro (BDO),[a] is a Philippine banking company based in Mandaluyong. Regarding total assets, the firm is the largest bank in the Philippines and the 15th largest in Southeast Asia as of March 31, 2016. BDO Unibank is also an SM Group member and bank in the Philippines by market capitalization.

Landbank legacy will be best exemplified by the proposed condonation or restructuring of the P58B debt accumulated by subsistence farmers and fisherfolk, not to mention the lingering poverty that has befallen them. Any visit to the countryside reveals an aging population of farmers and fishermen without a next generation to replace them and feed the nation of the future due to the fruitless hand-to-mouth nature of their toil. The policy failures and, even worse, the corruption that shows no mercy, such as the delivery of diluted fertilizers, only partially explains why, despite fertile lands, the Philippines descended into rice, onions, and garlic imports. Rice importations despite being the seat of the International Rice Research Institute.

The Amanah Bank, despite Sharia Law, culminated in the ISIS siege of Marawi City. This was after establishing regional autonomy under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

This brings us to BDO – a private enterprise held accountable by shareholders. The largest Philippine bank by assets.

Without belaboring the point, government, particularly one in its relative infancy, commencing in 1946, does not compare to private enterprise. Filipinos have yet to be blessed by a benevolent leader who would set aside greed and vested interests and trade those values for unwavering patriotism.

Back to the title of this article – Bangkong Dambuhala ng mga Overseas Filipinos. If only present political leaders would see the value and wisdom of a bank inviting ownership and partnership with overseas Filipinos, both contract workers and migrant Filipinos – a bank that would undoubtedly invest in the Philippines. The seed for this bank has been planted in 2017 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Executive Order 44. It is now up to President BongBong Marcos to take the final initiative and see the future of the Overseas Filipino Bank to its full potential and unleash the financial success story of his generation and the Filipino people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Crispin Fernandez advocates for overseas Filipinos, public health, transformative political change, and patriotic economics. He is also a community organizer, leader, and freelance writer.

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