Espenilla was battling tongue cancer and had been on extended medical leave.
Despite some difficulty speaking due to the side effects of radiation therapy, Espenilla had maintained his "work as usual" attitude.
"I just have to hang on and be patient. Meanwhile, it's work as usual for me. Onward with the financial market reforms," he said in February 2018.
He was appointed as the 4th BSP governor in July 2017, taking over the role from Amando Tetangco Jr.
Malacañang expressed its condolences to Espenilla's family as well as gratitude "for his complete devotion to his work and great service to the nation."
In a statement on Sunday, February 24, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo noted that Espenilla served the BSP for nearly 40 years, starting as a debt analyst in 1982.
"Governor Espenilla, or Nesting to his BSP colleagues, slowly but steadily rose through the ladder before his appointment as deputy governor in 2005. This UP (University of the Philippines) magna cum laude graduate was best remembered by the ordinary Juan de la Cruz for making financial services closer to Filipinos who – we are all aware – transact mostly using non-bank channels," Panelo said.
"He pioneered a National Retail Payment System and introduced InstaPay, an electronic fund transfer system, and PESONet, an automated clearing house, which saw the Philippines' gradual shift from cash and check-based payments to electronic means."