Bangko Sentral ignores protests, prints P1,000 polymer banknotes sans 3 heroes

THE NEW P1,000 polymer bill which abandoned abaca, with pictures of 3 Filipino heroes removed

MANILA  – In a controversial move, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has started circulating 10 million pieces of the P1,000 polymer banknotes which were produced in Australia.

The shift to the plastic polymer banknotes has been opposed by various sectors, including abaca farmers and government agencies promoting abaca production, as well as relatives of three Philippine heroes who have been erased in the new bills. Old bills used abaca material which is famous all over the world.

Several groups and legislators have criticized the BSP’s move to remove the faces of the heroes featured on the regular P1,000 banknotes in its trial polymer bills, saying this could aid the historical revisionism gaining ground in the country in recent years.

According to the central bank, the release is equivalent to 0.7% of the estimated combined number of P1,000 paper and polymer banknotes in circulation.

The BSP said a total of 500 million pieces of polymer banknotes is expected to be circulated alongside the P1,000 paper banknotes by 2023 as part of what it said as trial circulation.

The polymer bills feature the Philippine eagle on the frontside, as well as the sampaguita. This sets it apart from the existing P1,000 paper bills that feature World War II heroes Jose Abad Santos, Vicente Lim, and Josefa Llanes Escoda.

Meanwhile, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, South Sea Pearl, and T’nalak weave are on the reverse side.

BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said they do not intend to demonetize the banknotes and coins in circulation during his term as central bank chief.

Polymer bills last at least 2.5 times longer than paper banknotes, given their resistance to water, oil, dirt, and general wear and tear, the central bank earlier said.

The BSP is testing polymer bills to see if the benefits reaped by other central banks from using the material will also be seen in the local setting.

The central bank in December released the new design of the P1,000 polymer note, designed by the BSP and approved by the National Historical Commission. It features the Philippine eagle in front, replacing jerpes Vicente Lim, Josefa Llanes Escoda, and Jose Abad Santos.

The BSP tapped Reserve Bank of Australia and its wholly-owned subsidiary Note Printing Australia for the production of the polymer banknotes, using materials similar to banknotes of Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

“BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno has repeatedly stated that there will be no demonetization of currently circulating banknotes and coins during his term,” the BSP said in an emailed statement.

The BSP also earlier advised the public that the new P1,000 banknotes made of polymer are not for sale, and is only worth its face value. It should not be sold, traded, or bought for any other amount. (Lolly Rivera Acosta)