Bill on Landbank-DBP merger out, but no word on retrenchment
MANILA, Philippines — Wary of two earlier attempts that failed, the government remained very cautious about its announced plan to merge the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting, chair of the legislative franchises panel of the House of Representatives, has already filed House Bill No. 7685, meant to outline the merger of the country’s two largest government banks.
While the bill recognized that the merger would result in the retrenchment or retirement of employees, the bill did not mention exactly how many would be affected nor specify their separation benefits.
HB 7685 was filed on March 17, 11 days before Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced that the government would again attempt to merge the two banks and save the government around P5 billion a year in operating costs.
Landbank and its subsidiaries was estimated to have more than 10,000 employees in 2019 while the DBP group is estimated to have more than 3,000.
The administrations of the late former President Benigno Aquino III and immediate past President Rodrigo Duterte tried to merge the two banks, but both attempts failed.
In the latest attempt, Tambunting cited the need to strengthen the banks’ financial capabilities and improve the delivery of services by merging their “different but complementary mandates.”
“The merger of DBP and LBP is aimed at achieving greater efficiency, synergy and competitiveness in the delivery of banking services to priority sectors such as agriculture/agrarian reform, small and medium enterprises, infrastructure and public services,” the bill’s explanatory note said.
It was not the first time such a bill was proposed in the House either. In 2015, during the 16th Congress, the House approved a bill proposing the banks’ consolidation but the measure failed in the Senate.
Tambunting’s bill was, in many ways, similar to the earlier approved bill and contained provisions considered to be “due diligence.”
According to Diokno, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. supports the merger of the two banks and that they had both agreed to implement the merger before the end of the year.