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Lawmakers seek House probe into BPI system glitch

OFFLINE. AKO Bicol Representatives Rodel Batocabe, Alfredo Garbin Jr, and Christopher Co file House Resolution (HR) Number 1072, seeking an inquiry into the BPI system glitch. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Three lawmakers filed a resolution urging a House committee to investigate the system glitch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), with bank accounts remaining inaccessible for the 2nd straight day.

AKO Bicol Representatives Rodel Batocabe, Alfredo Garbin Jr, and Christopher Co filed House Resolution (HR) Number 1072 on Thursday, June 8.

They want the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the "security and stability of bank internal systems in light of the recent BPI internal error."

BPI clients began reporting unauthorized transactions in their accounts early Wednesday morning, June 7. The bank attributed the fiasco to an "internal data processing error" and said it was not a hacking incident.

BPI executives also assured clients the problem would be resolved on Wednesday. At 10:03 pm, the bank said it had "rectified the mispostings related to the internal systems problem," and that it had also restored automated teller machine (ATM) functionality.

But around 12 hours later, BPI once again deactivated its electronic channels, including its ATMs.

"In the process of rectifying balances of accounts with misposted transactions, we have noted that certain accounts still reflect incorrect balances. To allow us to do the necessary adjustments, we will need to deactivate our electronic channels today," the bank said in an advisory posted on Twitter at 10:46 am.

For Batocabe, Garbin, and Co, the banking fiasco "brought considerable panic resulting to many bewildered depositors going to their BPI branch of account to demand an explanation or a return of their money."

"We need to conduct an investigation to find out about the root cause of the BPI internal error and to determine the most suitable safeguards and to prevent such future incident from happening not only to BPI but in other banks and financial institutions," said the lawmakers.

BPI is owned by local conglomerate Ayala Corporation, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, and Singapore’s GIC Private Ltd.

The Ayala-led bank is the 3rd biggest universal bank in the country in terms of deposits. As of March 2017, its total deposits reached P1.44 trillion and total resources hit P1.73 trillion.

It reported net income of P6.3 billion in the first 3 months of 2017, up 26% from the same period a year ago.

As of end-2016, it has 821 branches across the country, including 35 kiosk branches, and has a network of 3,061 ATMs and cash deposit machines. –