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A compleat banker in a distinctive board

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By Atty. Jun de Zuñiga

I offer this column in memory of a fellow columnist and a colleague in the Monetary Board, the late Val Araneta – the compleat banker. The description is aptly due him, as “compleat” means highly skilled and accomplished in all aspects.

Val and I were appointed to the Monetary Board by the President in 2014 with our terms expiring  in July 2020.  Val will not be able to finish his term with his untimely demise last February 21, seven days after celebrating his 69th birthday on February 14, Valentine’s day.

Val and I knew each other even before our appointment but it was in our working together at the Monetary Board where my respect and admiration for him grew deeper.  He was totally dedicated and persevering in his work, bringing with him at the board his wealth of learning and experience.  His interventions always carried the elements of fairness, integrity and professionalism, and with the public good always in mind.  These are remarkable characteristics indeed of a true public servant.

This brings me to the matter of why I consider the Monetary Board a distinctive kind of board.  As his son, Jose, mentioned during the necrological services for his father at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on February 23, after serving the private banking sector eminently, Val capped his banking career by joining the Monetary Board.  As many would say, being in the Monetary Board would be every banker’s dream come true.

The Monetary Board is specially created by law and invested with the public mandate to provide policy directions for the country in the areas of money, banking and credit and in the supervision of the banking industry. It was given the primary objective to maintain price stability conducive to a balanced and sustainable growth of the economy.  Accordingly, the law tasked the Monetary Board to submit regular reports on its performance to the President and to Congress.

Operationally, the Monetary Board functions differently form a regular corporate board.  For one, the Monetary Board is required to meet at least once a week unlike the normal once-a-month board meeting, and holidays or exigencies are not excuses for not meeting.  Thus, assuming that an entire week is officially declared as holiday season, the Monetary Board is still obliged to meet.  For it not to do so would be considered a violation of law.

The number of members to constitute a quorum and the number of votes to pass a regular item or a special item are also specified by law.  But it is not only the satisfaction of the required quorum and votes that are material here, because there is also the requirement in the law that the members of the Monetary Board shall exercise extraordinary diligence in the performance of their duties.  As the term implies, such diligence is higher in level than that required in the normal management of affairs.  And upon cessation of their terms, Monetary Board members are disqualified for two years from joining any Bangko Sentral supervised entity, unlike the one-year disqualification period normally applied to other government regulators.  This is an additional period of neutrality.

Overall these factors, it is an honor to serve at the Monetary Board, and it was likewise an honor to have served in the board with Val Araneta.  Val, you will always be missed at the Monetary Board.

*****

The above comments are the personal views of the writer. His email address is jzuniga@bsp.gov.ph

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