PBCom bank branch flooded, clients lost valuables?

James Ryan Jonas

A PMT Forum member posted that a branch of the Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom) in Binondo, Manila got flooded due to typhoon Ondoy.

As a result, many of the valuables entrusted by clients in PBCom’s safety deposit boxes (SDB) were allegedly submerged and damaged. The bank is supposedly waiving any liability, claiming that this was caused by “an act of God.”

Wrote moneysense in the forum discussion thread Philippine Bank of Communication (PBCom) Badly Damaged by Floods:

The Downtown Center branch of Philippine Bank of Communication  (PBCom), which is located on Juan Luna St., Binondo, Manila, was badly damaged by the 9/26 floods, thousands of its safety deposit boxes in the basement were submerged in floods, as many of its long time clients and depositors, who have entrusted the bank and placed their most valuable belongings like jewelries, important documents, foreign currencies, memorable personal stuffs in these safety boxes have suffered severe and irrevocable damages, the worst thing is that most clients only got informed by the bank 2 weeks after the incident happened.

And yet the bank management has been refusing to apologize or provide any type of proper compensation to its clients, claiming that they are not liable to any damages caused by natural calamity, despite the fact that the bank itself could have claimed enormous amount from its flood and calamity insurance coverage.

Can someone confirm if this is true?

I’d assume the contract for the use of banks’ SDBs would include protection for the bank from any liability resulting from “force majeure” or “acts of God.” This would include floods, earthquake, fire, or other natural disasters.

How about clients? Are they protected in any way? We need a legal opinion on this.

If the PBCom flood case is true, it’s sad that clients chose to use SDBs supposedly to safeguard their valuables only to be damaged because the safety deposit boxes themselves were flooded.

Sad, sad irony.

Join the discussion: Philippine Bank of Communication (PBCom) Badly Damaged by Floods

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.