THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) reminded its supervised financial institutions to ensure their services are inclusive of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and to avoid discriminating against them.

Memorandum No. M-2021-040 signed by BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier on July 16 said BSP-supervised financial institutions should consider the needs of PWDs, including those with learning difficulties, people who are deaf or have hearing difficulties, and the visually impaired, among others.

“This is to ensure that their rights as PWDs to participate fully in the social life and enjoyment of opportunities available to other citizens are upheld at all times,” the memo said.

The BSP flagged discriminatory practices such as the rejection of government-issued PWD identification cards as a Know-Your-Customer document for opening accounts and other financial transactions.

It also cited the practice of turning away visually impaired people from the process of opening an account and limiting them to joint accounts.

Financial institutions should ensure they are equipped with instruments and mechanisms that will be inclusive of the needs of PWDs, the memo said.

“Apart from mobility ramps and Braille system in bank premises and automated teller machines (ATMs), all BSP-supervised financial institutions are also reminded to provide express lanes for PWDs similar to those express lanes reserved for senior citizens and pregnant women within their premises,” the central bank said.

The BSP memorandum is in line with measures meant to promote fair treatment for PWDS including the Republic Act (RA) 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons as amended by RA 10754, Batas Pambansa 344, as well as BSP’s own regulations.

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2010 Census of Population and Housing, 1.44 million or 1.57% of household population are PWDs.

More than two-thirds or 51.2 million of the adult population remained unbanked as of 2019, based on central bank data. The BSP wants to bring the country’s banked population to 70% of Filipino adults by 2023 from 29% in 2019. — L.W.T. Noble