Banks, malls in Cebu opened but closed early-A A +A
Thursday, October 17, 2013
MOST banks closed early yesterday amid several aftershocks of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol last Tuesday.
Most malls resumed operations but some of them closed earlier than usual.
The strongest aftershock, having a magnitude of 5.1, occurred at 10:42 a.m. yesterday with a recorded intensity 5 in Lapu-Lapu City. A 5.1-magnitude aftershock also occurred at 9:36 a.m. but Lapu-Lapu only felt it as intensity 3 tremor.
The Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 has suspended its front line services in its Cebu and Bohol offices to assess infrastructure and information technology (IT) facilities.
LTO 7 Director Arnel Tancinco said that their services will resume as soon as their communication systems are again functional and the safety of its buildings are guaranteed.
Cebu Bankers Club president Juey Umerez said that after a structural assessment of their facilities, most of the group’s member banks secured permits from their head offices and from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for a shortened banking hours to ensure the safety of their personnel and clients.
He said all major branches of banks in Cebu opened yesterday after completing structural evaluation. But there were a few that remained closed due to some structural and equipment damages.
“For safety of their clients and personnel, they opted to suspend operations,” he said. Some automated teller machines (ATMs) also went offline due to connection damage, he added.
Umerez assured that banks have loaded their ATMs with enough cash to continue serving the public.
BSP 7, on the other hand, closed their operations at noon yesterday.
“We immediately secured a permit from our head office in Manila to stop operations at noon after servicing the withdrawals of the banks,” said lawyer Maria Lux Berciles of BSP 7, in a phone interview.
She also noted that the Bankers Club of Bohol also informed their office that they are temporarily suspending their banking and clearing operations until further notice.
The epicenter of last Tuesday’s earthquake was in Sagbayan, Bohol, according to the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology website.
Residents in Tagbilaran City in Bohol and Metro Cebu felt it as an intensity 7 tremor.
Out of the seven branches of Security Bank in Cebu, only one branch, housed in an old building on J. Luna St., did not open.
Mary Christine Chua of Security Bank said for safety purposes, they re-routed the banking transactions in their Osmeña branch. The bank closed earlier at 2 p.m.
All RCBC branches opened yesterday, except for the two branches that were still assessed by some engineers from Manila. Prudencio Gesta of RCBC said they also secured a permit from their head office for an early dismissal of their employees.
Umerez said most employees suffered from lack of sleep from last Tuesday’s calamity.
“We are seeking for the public’s understanding. We hope for normal banking operations to resume today,” said Umerez.
Retail establishments in Cebu resumed operations yesterday after completing their structural evaluations.
RJ Leduna, SM senior public relations manager, said it is “business as usual” for both SM City Cebu and SM Consolacion as “no major damages were seen” in both malls. The mall opened at noon yesterday.
Ayala Center Cebu (ACC) also resumed regular operations yesterday. But Cebu Holdings Inc. corporate communications manager Jeanette Japzon said the mall is on “yellow alert” due to aftershocks. They have also activated their crisis management team.
ACC also shortened mall hours up to 5 p.m. to “allow mall personnel to go home to their families earlier.”
Structural engineers gave the Banilad Town Center clearance to operate yesterday, said administrator and general manager Kyle Kokseng said they are expecting almost all establishments to open today.
Jerry Uy of JCentre Mall said only McDonalds and the Hypermarket resumed operations yesterday. He said other tenants were afraid of the aftershocks.
Elizabeth Mall, meanwhile, remained closed since Tuesday.
Cebu Port Authority (CPA) General Manager Edmund Tan, on the other hand, said the CPA conducted an inspection of its ports after the earthquake. He said cracks were found on the floors and walls of passenger terminals in the Cebu City Baseport and debris fell from the ceilings.
He said no passengers were injured during the earthquake.
Meanwhile, Lite Shipping Corp., owner of Lite Ferries Vessels, announced it will transport relief goods to Bohol from any port where they have services free of charge, as part of their corporate social responsibility program.
Lite Shipping president and chief executive officer Lucio Lim Jr. said those who want to donate relief goods for Bohol earthquake victims can inquire from their branches.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 17, 2013.