By ALI G. MACABALANG
MALABANG, Lanao del Sur
This town and adjacent Balabagan municipality, both oldest local government units in this province existing ever since without banks, will be installed this year with three automated teller machine units, courtesy of collaboration between the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
The ATM units will serve the two communities and people in three other nearby towns, especially cassava farmers, who face for decades difficulties in traveling to Cotabato and Pagadian cities for bank transactions, Dr. Adrian Tamayo, director of MinDA corporate communications office, said.
Dr. Tamayo was referring to the adjacent towns of Picong, Calanugas and Kapatagan, which are equally bank-less since their creation.
In statement posted online on Thursday, MinDA Chairman Manny Piñol said the three ATM kiosks will be opened “before the end of this year” at the town centers of Malabang and Balabagan at the compound of the cassava starch manufacturing company, Matling Industrial Commercial Corporation (MICC) here.
DBP President Emmanuel Herbosa and Sec. Piñol dispatched their field workers in a joint team early this week for an ocular inspection on strategic sites for the three ATM units. DBP Branch Manager Wilfredo Kaamino, who led the site inspections, expressed confidence over the viability of the ATM units in such locations, Dr. Tamayo said.
On Wednesday, Kaamino and Sec. Piñol met the MICC officials as well as Mayors Tomas Macapodi of Malabang and Edna Ogca-Benito of Balabagan, and received plaudits from the hosts for their initiatives in breaking a lull in the absence of bank services across the second Congressional District of Lanao del Sur, Dr. Tamayo said.
In a meeting with a MinDA team led by Sec. Piñol two months earlier, MICC officials had brought up the problem of the lack of banking facilities for encashment of their checks without risks and difficulty of travels.
Ace Gaccad, chief operations officer of MICC, said that farmers had to go to Pagadian City or Cotabato City to encase their checks or the money exchange outlets in the town which charge very high service fees, Piñol said.
Citing feedback from civilian and security authorities, MinDA officials said banks had been hesitant to open facilities in the Congressional district due to perceived security risks.
MinDA and DBP officials believed the security concern would be addressed squarely after proper coordination with the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the local police to provide sufficient security to bank armored cars required to supply the ATMs with cash. (Ali G. Macabalang)