BSP will not demonetize any banknotes – Diokno

Published December 14, 2021, 2:52 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said they will not demonetize or remove from general circulation any of the six paper-based banknote denominations as they slowly introduce polymer money in the country, beginning with the 1,000-piso bill by April or May next year.

BSP polymer banknotes

“We will not demonetize the existing 1,000-piso paper banknotes. Under my watch, there will be no demonetization of any denomination,” said Diokno. He made this public assurance in a media briefing on Monday evening, Dec. 13.

“The BSP will continue to print the existing 1,000-piso paper banknotes featuring the three heroes even as we circulate the new 1,000-piso polymer banknotes,” he said.

Diokno also said the 1,000-piso paper banknote featuring Jose Abad Santos, Vicente Lim and Josefa Llanes Escoda will remain in circulation alongside with the new 1,000-piso polymer banknotes.

This was his reply to both media and social media queries of whether or not the BSP is “abandoning” the heroes theme in the Philippine currency design series, currently called the New Generation Currency (NGC) that was first circulated in December 2010.

“No, we’re not (abandoning heroes),” said Diokno. “Heroes will remain heroes whether they are in the notes or not,” he said.

The BSP has already explained previously why the flora and fauna theme will apply to the 1,000-piso polymer banknotes.

Still, Diokno reiterated that the BSP has featured both historical figures and heroes, and flora and fauna themes in banknotes and coins.

“We believe both are important for the cultural preservation and promoting our heritage (and) changing themes are intended to accommodate and celebrate numismatic artistry and dynamism. Like the heroes theme, the flora and fauna theme will demonstrate our pride and distinction as a people and a nation,” he said.

As for the Philippine eagle centerpiece on the 1,000-piso polymer banknote, Diokno said that this is not the first time that the native eagle has been featured on the local currency.

“The Philippine eagle is an endangered species and one of the world’s largest and most powerful birds of prey and it is native to the Philippines. It is not the first time that we are featuring the Philippine eagle in our currency. It was featured in the 50 centavo coin that was in circulation for decades. It was also featured in a 500-piso commemorative coin issued in 2018 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the BSP,” said Diokno.

Currency designs are cyclical. The BSP features sources of national pride at various times and different denominations.

“We find the Philippine eagle apt for the 1,000-piso polymer banknote — the highest denomination — because it depicts strength and freedom of Filipinos as well independence and clear vision of BSP to help achieve a better and more inclusive economy,” said Diokno.

The 1,000-piso banknote is the country’s largest denomination in general circulation and according to Diokno, it is the most widely-circulated banknote in the Philippines. “It is also the subject of the highest number of counterfeiting attempts, although it has the most number of security features and the hardest banknotes to forge,” he added.

While paper banknotes will still dominate the money in circulation, the BSP wanted to have a test run for polymer money to acquire significant feedback, and to determine the effect of polymer banknotes on currency handling as well as to attest its durability and lifespan.

The COVID-19 pandemic and concerns for sanitizing frequently touched objects including banknotes and coins is a key reason why the BSP has decided to source polymer money.

Polymer banknotes have low bacterial count compared to paper or cotton-based banknotes. Some central banks such the Reserve Bank of Australia have found out that polymer banknotes are safer than paper as it will not host viruses or bacteria. It is the Australian central bank that will print the country’s polymer banknotes.

The BSP also wants an environmental-safe and recyclable banknotes. The more durable and water-resistant plastic money will have a smaller carbon footprint, lower water and energy usage, and less environmental toxicity, said the BSP.

Also, polymer banknotes will have lower production costs and since it will last longer, it will eventually improve in terms of cost savings. Another potential benefits of polymer banknotes is that it is harder to counterfeit because of its security features.