By Jeannette I. Andrare | Inquirer.net
Vice Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. opposed the merger of the Land Bank of the Philippines with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), saying it would deprive farmers of a means to get financial support.
In a statement Marcos, who was interviewed by the Cebu Catholic TV Network in his Cebu City campaign sortie, said that the merger would further prejudice the country’s agricultural sector because farmers would lose banks mandated to serve their needs.
He pointed out that the merged Land Bank and DBP would become a commercial bank. “We will lose the agricultural banks truly responsive to the needs of our farmers,” he said in Filipino.
Marcos was reacting to President Aquino’s signing Executive Order 198 which merges the two banks.
The vice presidential candidate said it has long been difficult for farmers to get credit from banks and other financial institutions. The merger, he stressed, would deprive farmers of a bank created specifically for their needs and would further worsen their condition. Farmers comprise 70 percent of the country’s poor, according to Marcos.
Land Bank is the biggest credit provider to small farmers and fishermen, local government units and the biggest lender to micro, small, and medium enterprises among public financial institutions.
DBP is mandated to “provide banking services principally to cater to the medium and long-term needs of agricultural and industrial enterprises with emphasis on small and medium-scale industries.”
Marcos cited the apprehension voiced out by banking experts that the Land Bank might, after the merger, focus on profit-oriented initiatives and set aside programs for small sectors such as farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. has questioned the merger saying that it should have been an act of Congress and not sanctioned through an executive order.