MANILA, FEBRUARY 4, 2012 (ABS-CBN) By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News - President Aquino lauded officials and employees who have contributed to reforms in the Development Bank of the Philippines, at the same time warning erring personnel of consequences.

“To the dregs of the old system who might still be holding on to their ways, despite my express, direct order to tread the straight path: Do not test me. I can be a patient man, but my patience has its limits—especially for those who stand as obstacles to reform,” Aquino said in his speech during the 65th anniversary program of the DBP.

DBP officials, led by president and CEO Francisco del Rosario, turned over to the President a symbolic check representing P4 billion in dividends, its highest, according to del Rosario.

Aquino said that the days of giving special favors to certain entities are over, referring to a revelation by Senator Serge Osmeña that a firm owned for former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin received a loan from the DBP during the previous administration, allegedly “despite the absence of a loan application.”

“Leaders who were supposed to be exemplars of integrity fell prey to a system where connections were capital, and patronage was king,” Aquino said.

“Deals of this type had become the dirty secrets of a privileged class of bank patrons who bullied their way over the hundreds of decent and competent DBP employees who wanted to do the right thing. It was a decade in which the real bosses of the DBP—the Filipino people—were shoved out of the way in favor of a privileged few,” he added.

“Today, on the beginning of its 65th year, the DBP has begun to close the door on that lost decade. It has begun to reclaim its honor by holding accountable those who abused the institution. More importantly, after nineteen months, the straight and narrow path has led the DBP back to its true purpose: financial support in line with the agenda of development, poverty reduction, and inclusive growth.”

Aquino made a reference to case of a DBP lawyer who committed suicide last year, reportedly triggered by attempts to force him to testify on allegedly anomalous deals under the threat of being sued.

“This path back to our bosses has not been an easy one to tread. It has encountered its share of resistance, controversy, and even tragedy. I have said, from the beginning, that an order from above will not magically change the system. The turnaround that the DBP is now experiencing was about the initiative, hard work, and courage of so many people: the new and committed Board of the DBP; a Senate and House of Representatives that stands with us in our agenda of reform; and the hundreds of employees of the DBP who now find a space where decency and integrity are lauded, and not stifled,” he said.

On its anniversary, the DBP also launched the CRUISE or Connecting Rural and Urban Intermodal Systems Efficiently program, its new infrastructure and logistics initiative to stimulate investments in transport infrastructure with a budget allocation of P20 billion.

It also launched the Tree Plantation Financing Program (TPFP) that is meant to finance the “expansion, harvesting, maintenance, and protection of existing tree plantations in the country.”

Representatives of 455 scholars under the DBP Endowment for Education Program (DEEP) were also presented to Aquino. The scholars are enrolled in maritime, technical and vocational, nursing and agriculture courses.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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