Mass withdrawals hit bank in Surigao; owner infuses more capital

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/12 November) — Rumors that it was going bankrupt have triggered mass withdrawals from the Surigaonon Rural Banking Corporation Inc. (SRBC) since last month, the bank’s majority owner and founder said Tuesday.

But Alfredo “Boya” Bonpin assured SRBC has remained stable despite the bank run. “We can accept deposits now because it’s stable.”

Bonpin told reporters he infused at least P60 million to offset the mass withdrawals. He, however, said he needed to add P20 million more to make the bank more stable.

But some depositors who wanted to get their huge deposits complained they could not do so.

A depositor who requested anonymity said he had at least P3 million in the bank but could not get his money for now.

“You will just receive 1,500 a day,” he said with a frown, adding the other depositors were facing the same problem.

Another depositor lamented that he had almost P500,000 but could not withdraw it too.

Bonpin admitted this has been happening to the bank since last month.

He said the bank could not accommodate all of the withdrawals because the money had been loaned out to teachers and other clients. “But they (depositors) can get their money back in time.”

The bank owner also dismissed rumors going around the city that the bank has been put under the receivership of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

SRBC was established in 1998, and to date it has 28 branches the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Butuan, Cabadbaran, and Cebu, among others.

Bonpin said that since its founding the bank has experienced bank runs five times already. “But this is the worst so far,” he admitted.

Millions lost

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.

He said an auditing firm is now doing an investigation.

Several members of the bank’s board of directors had resigned a few days before the mass withdrawals.

“They thought the bank will collapse because they never thought that I can infuse such amount, they thought I don’t have money anymore,” Bonpin said.

“I own more than 50 percent or majority among stockholders,” he said.

Aside from SRBC, Bonpin owns majority of other financial institutions including Frontier Bank in Cebu, Evergreen Lending Corp., and Rural Bank of Loreto.

He also said he owns a big business in the US and is engaged in mining.

He said he doesn’t want to see the bank close down as it is the Surigaonons’ “legacy and pride”.

“Honesty is my trademark in business, and that’s the reason why I achieved and succeeded in all my ventures,” he added. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)