Budget chief Benjamin Diokno named BSP governor

Diokno PhilStar

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) 

MANILA, Philippines — Over a week after the death of Nestor Espenilla Jr., the BangkoSentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has a new governor: Benjamin Diokno, who will be moving from his post as secretary of budget and management.

Diokno disclosed his appointment last night to reporters. He will be serving the remainder of Espenilla’s six-year term. The appointment was confirmed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea at Malacañang.

The chief of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) bested BSP deputy governors Maria AlmasaraCydTuaño-Amador, DiwaGuinigundo, and ChuchiFonacier as well as Monetary Board member Peter Favila and bankers Nestor Tan of BDO Unibank, Antonio Moncupa of EastWest Bank, and Cezar Consing of Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands.

The BSP community and bankers were surprised by the announcement as they were expecting that another central bank insider would be appointed.

Both Espenilla and his predecessor AmandoTetangco Jr. served the central bank for more than three decades. Tetangco served an unprecedented two six-year terms, while Espenilla served for only 19 months. Espenilla died on February 23 after battling tongue cancer for more than a year.

Diokno, 68, was appointed DBM secretary by President Duterte on June 30, 2016. It was his third tour of duty as DBM chief.

Since late last year, members of the House of Representatives have been at odds with Diokno over a new budgeting scheme that he says promotes efficiency and transparency in the utilization of public funds.

A House panel led by appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. of Camarines Sur is conducting an investigation into purported anomalies in the DBM, including alleged corruption and conflict of interest involving Diokno’s in-laws  in the Bicol region.

Diokno has denied any wrongdoing, but he has refused to face the House inquiry again after his initial attendance. His Cabinet colleagues expressed support for his refusal to return to the House, and Andaya did not make good on a threat to have Diokno cited for contempt for repeatedly snubbing the chamber.

Diokno served as senior advisor at the International Tax and Investment Center; professorial lecturer, School of Economics, University of the Philippines in Diliman; chairman, Board of Regents, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila; chairman, Board of Trustees, Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, and independent director, Asia United Bank.

He served as fiscal adviser to the Philippine Senate. He also served as chairman and CEO of the Philippine National Oil Co. and chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration.

Diokno obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Economics from UP.

He also obtained a Master of Arts in Political Economy from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a doctorate in Economics from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.