House minority wants Land Bank mandate to help small farmers, fisherfolk kept intact in merger with DBP

The minority bloc in the House of Representatives will not oppose the planned merger of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) as long as the former’s mandate to provide direct credit support to small farmers and fisherfolk is kept intact.

“We must stress that Land Bank is duty bound to allocate at least 5 percent of its regular loan portfolio for socialized credit to agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmers and fisherfolk,” House Minority Leader and 4Ps party-list Rep. Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan said in a statement on Sunday.

“So long as this obligation to extend low-cost financing to farming and fishing communities is left unimpaired, we won’t get in the way of the proposed combination of the two banks,” Libanan said.

Libanan is also counting on Land Bank to continue servicing the borrowing requirements of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the provinces.

Land Bank’s mission to promote countryside development has become absolutely imperative, considering that many private rural banks have collapsed over the years, according to Libanan.

Since 2012, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has ordered the closure and liquidation of 123 troubled private rural banks across the country, based on Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) records.

The government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants to merge Land Bank with DBP, with the former as the surviving entity, in a bid to achieve operating efficiencies and cost reductions.

The union of the two state-owned lenders would create the nation’s largest bank with P4.18 trillion in assets, according to Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

Land Bank, which acts as the official depository of government funds, has 752 branches, 2,810 ATMs and over 10,000 employees.

DBP has 147 branches, 836 ATMs and over 3,600 employees.