The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is proposing a more rigid package of penalties and sanctions against currency counterfeiting and to criminalize the stockpiling of large amounts of coins.
BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said they are currently conducting preparatory work, which is “in full swing” for the legislature to “raise the penalty for crimes involving currency counterfeiting and to criminalize the hoarding of coins.”
“The BSP proposes to increase the length of imprisonment to deter counterfeiting through amendment of existing laws,” said Diokno during his weekly, online press chat on Thursday, Jan. 27.
Under existing laws, the crime of producing fake banknotes carries a jail sentence of at least 12 years and a day, and P2 million maximum fine.
“Our proposal for stiffer penalties will also take into consideration the current economic landscape as well as advancements in printing technologies,” said Diokno.
He said the BSP is proposing the enactment of a law that “will define the crime of coin hoarding and will provide penalties for the commission of said offense (and) this will involve the revival of earlier legislative initiatives on coin hoarding at the Senate and House of Representatives.”
The BSP is hoping that their proposed measures will further strengthen its currency operations such as production, distribution, deposit-taking from banks, authenticity verification, anti-counterfeiting operations, and retirement.
The BSP retires banknotes and coins deemed unfit, mutilated and demonetized to ensure that only fit and legal tender notes and coins are circulated to the public.
In the last three years, banknotes retired or destroyed by the BSP have been declining. Since 2019, they have retired P2.44 trillion worth of banknotes in different denominations.
“The decreasing growth rate may be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic which has served as a catalyst for Filipinos to use digital payments to prevent the spread of the virus. We also believe that the decreasing trend is related to efficiencies generated in the recirculation of fit currency brought about by the launch of the Cash Service Alliance in 2020,” according to Diokno. The Cash Service Alliance is BSP’s partnership with the Bankers Association of the Philippines to “ensure that cash servicing operations are undisrupted amid restrictions during the pandemic.”
As for efforts against counterfeits, the central bank has conducted 110 law enforcement operations from 2010 to 2021 and arrested 179 suspects.
Diokno said the central bank has seized 12,400 pieces of counterfeit banknotes worth P7.8 million and more than 14,300 pieces of counterfeit US dollar banknotes worth more than $92.5 million. The BSP has also confiscated coins worth P50 million from 2010 to 2021.
“The BSP, in collaboration with Bureau of Customs and National Bureau of Investigation, seized the coins due to unexplained accumulation, and possible connection with illegal activities,” said Diokno.
The BSP’s enforcement operations also led to the filing of 164 criminal cases in court, with 65 already concluded. “From those concluded, 64 resulted in the conviction of the accused as charged. This is equivalent to a conviction rate of 98.46 percent,” he added.