The passing of a transformational leader
By Kevin Luarca
The governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Nestor Espenilla Jr., passes away at 60. He oversaw several banking reforms that liberalised the financial markets, advocated greater financial inclusion, and spurred a wider adoption of new technologies and innovations.
The Philippines’ central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), announced the passing of Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. on Saturday, 23 February 2019.
Espenilla is fondly remembered for his sharp mind and revolutionary outlook. He led the country through several banking reforms that liberalised the foreign exchange market, advocated greater financial inclusion, spurred a wider adoption of new technologies, and helped reinvigorate the country into one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
He safeguarded the country, was tough on violators, but was a good friend to those who championed innovation. Back in 2016, Espenilla as the then deputy governor received the Best Macroeconomic Regulator in Asia Pacific award for BSP from The Asian Banker; and had since supported us in many of our events. In his many dialogues and speeches, he encouraged greater partnership with other countries and recapitulated the many reforms that strengthened the central bank.
He was appointed governor by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 3 July 2017. Upon taking office he immediately reviewed the financial and monetary policies and structured a plan that will jumpstart the economy into a tiger economy. In 2018 “Continuity Plus Plus” was launched as a strategic roadmap for 2018 to 2023. The primary goal of the roadmap is to strengthen risk governance, accelerate capital development, broaden access to financial services, leverage fintech and AI in the country, and uphold financial integrity and safeguard public interest.
Despite the challenges of 2018, mainly due to the soaring inflation rate and a revised tax law, he was able to showcase his skills as he proactively addressed brewing demand-side pressures and potential second-round effects which effectively clamped down inflation back to a manageable range. Under his guidance the Philippines was able to join a group of 50 jurisdictions which reported cross-border banking statistics to the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), highlighting a more critical and transparent data management in the country. He also helped establish a local Renminbi trading market, and promised to improve the US Dollar trading market to meet economic requirements.
While fulfilling his demanding responsibilities as BSP governor, he was also battling cancer. In February of 2018 he was diagnosed with tongue cancer, but still went above and beyond what was expected from him. He is the benchmark for excellence not only for future BSP regulators, but to all leaders anywhere else.
A hardworking man, a transformational leader, a loving father and husband, a kind friend, and a hero for the masses. All of us at the Asian Banker especially our colleagues in the Manila office are deeply saddened by the passing of Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr., and offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
Institution: Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas
People: Nestor Espenilla Jr.