THE Overseas Filipino Bank will be launched this afternoon in Manila — fulfilling President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s campaign promise.

The Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement that the bank will be launched at the PostBank Center, Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila.

This comes about four months since Mr. Duterte directed through Executive Order No. 44 the transfer of Philippine Postal Bank (PostBank) shares from the Philippine Postal Corporation and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) to Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank).

PostBank will perform functions of the Overseas Filipino bank, now a Landbank subsidiary — an acquisition approved by the Philippine Competition Commission last week and the central bank’s Monetary Board in December.

The lender is “dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirement of overseas Filipinos,” and will focus on delivering “quality and efficient foreign remittance services.”

“All obstacles to the opening of the bank that will cater to the needs of all overseas-based Filipinos have now been removed following last week’s approval by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) of the acquisition by the Landbank of Postal Savings Bank (Postbank), which will be converted into this financial institution for overseas Filipinos,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III was quoted in the statement as saying.

“It’s just a matter of the administrative integration of the bank. It’s an administrative thing and all the approvals have been cleared away for the acquisition,” he added.

The Finance chief said the move to acquire PostBank also saved it from bankruptcy.

Landbank President Alex V. Buenaventura said earlier that the lender’s first representative office would be located in Dubai, and the second one in Bahrain.

Moreover, Mr. Dominguez said the Department of Finance and Landbank, which he also chairs, are planning to secure licenses in other countries with large concentrations of overseas Filipinos so the lender can provide wider financial advisory services to the beneficiaries.

He said a loan package would also be made available for Filipinos planning to return to the Philippines to start their own businesses or build their homes.

Initially, the bank was planned to only cater overseas Filipino workers, but the DoF proposed to provide services to all foreign-based Filipinos to make it more inclusive, in keeping with the government’s financial inclusion agenda.

“You know, we are just fulfilling his (Mr. Duterte’s) campaign promise one by one. First, tax reform, then this new bank,” said Mr. Dominguez.

Mr. Dominguez said that the Landbank and the BTr are also exploring ways of mobilizing the savings of overseas-based Filipinos for them to invest in the country’s capital markets. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan