By Ali G. Macabalang
MALABANG, Lanao del Sur
Residents alongside private and government workers here and in nearby Balabagan town will finally end their age-old rigor of travelling more than 100 kilometers to encash checks, receive or remit cash by bank starting this December 3, according to the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) officials had informed MinDA counterparts about the implementation on that day of their earlier agreed arrangements for the installation of three DBP automated teller machine (ATM) kiosks, one at the Malabang municipal hall, another inside the Matling Industrial Commercial Corp. (MICC) here, the third in adjacent Balabagan town.
MinDA chairman Manny Piñol said he and DBP President Emmanuel Herbosa, along with officials from the military’s Western Mindanao Command, will grace the ceremonial installation and opening of the three ATMs on designated spots.
Since their creation centuries ago, Malabang and Balabagan towns like the 37 other municipalities in Lanao del Sur have been bereft of bank facilities because higher officials of banking institutions would not dare establish municipal branches in the province due to perceived security concerns.
This sad reality reached the attention of Sec. Piñol when he met with MICC officials in a visit here in July to link up MinDA and the MICC in the latter’s cassava farming, processing, production and marketing concerns.
At the July meeting, Piñol recalled, MICC’s key officer Ace Gaccad informed him about odds besetting farmers and mills workers in converting their pay checks into cash amid lack of bank facilities.
The town has no bank, not even an ATM machine and the nearest bank for the people is either Pagadian City or Cotabato City.
Pinol learned that MICC workers would either travel to Cotabato City or Pagadian City to encash their checks therein or settle down for discounted cash conversion by moneyed traders or personalities. Both cities are more than 100 kilometers away from here.
“I brought this (MICC-disclosed oddity) to the attention of DBP President Herbosa who directed the DBP Cagayan de Oro City branch head to assess and validate the recommendation of MinDA,” Pinol said in a Facebook post Friday,
Last September, Sec. Piñol and his team returned here, with the company of DBP Cagayan de Oro Branch Manager Wilfredo Kaamino, who led his branch workers in inspection and approving three sites for the ATMs kiosks.
In the return visit, the MinDA and DBP teams met Malabang Mayor Tomas Macapodi and Balabagan Mayor Edna Benito, who reportedly expressed elation over the planned opening of at least ATM kiosks in their turfs.
The Dec. 3 ceremony will mark the end of Malabang and Balabagan people’s woes on travelling over 100 miles away and on settling down for discounted check encashment with local money personalities, a scheme that sadly reduced the workers’ meager income.
“This (bright prospect) all happened because MinDA has adopted a policy of reaching out to the remotest areas of the island. Now, people will understand why as part of my governance advocacy, I travel to the farthest areas of the country,” Sec. Pinol pointed out in his recent Facebook post.
There are simple problems affecting the lives of our people which could easily be solved if only these are brought to the attention of our top decision makers, he said. AGM