‘Bank remains stable’: Majority owner refuses help for troubled SRBC

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/13 November) — Manila-based businessmen had offered help to save the Surigaonon Rural Banking Corporation (SRBC) from possible bankruptcy after it was hit by a withdrawal frenzy since last month, bank majority owner Alfredo Bonpin said on Thursday.

But Bonpin said he refused help from his friends as the bank has become stable after he infused at least P60 million from his own funds to offset the mass withdrawals. He said he would add P20 million within the month.

Mass withdrawals have hit the 14-year old SRBC here since last month after rumors spread it was going bankrupt.

“Yes, it’s true that they are willing to help me. In fact, I got several calls and mobile text messages from my close friends that they want to extend their financial support if I needed,” Bonpin said.

The banker said one of them is long-time friend Ramon Mijares, a businessman who also hails from Surigao City.

“I thanked them but right now I still have financial sources,” he said.

Aside from SRBC of which he is the majority owner, Bonpin is also the major stockholder of other financial institutions like Frontier Bank in Cebu, Evergreen Lending Corp., and Rural Bank of Loreto.

‘More profits’

Bonpin told reporters on Tuesday that his bank’s financial problem was now over after he infused P60 million.

“I definitely get more profits in this because those time deposits that were already withdrawn could not get their interests for failing to reach the maturity period,” he said.

Bonpin called the mass withdrawals a blessing in disguise. “I gain more profits in this way,” he said with a smile.

SRBC offers a time deposit scheme in which P380,000 pesos can earn get P1,000,000 after 11 years and one day.

“Yes we have that. In fact that is just too low compared to other banks who offer double your money. I can make profits of it,” he said.

A former bank manager who is now based in the U.S. agreed to what Bonpin said. “Yes, precisely because he did not have to give interest if certificates of deposits were drawn sooner.”

But the same source warned that what happened is damaging to the bank’s performance in the long run. “Interests are very low. Unless, he made good use and have a large borrower base who pays him high interests. But now, he has no money to loan out.”

Bonpin admitted that panic withdrawals have hit SRBC since last month.

Several depositors were still worried if they could still get their money back. MindaNews went inside the bank Thursday and saw some clients who look distraught and in disbelief. One even shed tears.

Bonpin said the bank will be releasing P1,000 to 10,000 depending on the cash returns they have.

“Their (depositors) money had been loaned out but they can get it back in time,” he assured.

He said the clients should not worry so much. He reiterated an earlier statement that his bank was stable and has not has not been put under the receivership of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

SRBC was established in 1998 and to date it has several branches in the cities of Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Butuan, Cabadbaran, Tacloban and Cebu.

Bonpin confirmed that the bank has lost millions of pesos in their accounts but would not divulge the actual amount.

He alleged that some of the people he trusted “stole” money from the bank.

“We are still conducting an audit to the bank,” he said. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)