BSP: Using eagle on P1,000 bill is for DENR to approve, not history agency

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2021 12:01 AM

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MANILA—The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said there was no need to consult the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) regarding the redesign of the P1,000 banknote since they did not add any historical elements on the new bill.

According to BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto Tangonan, the BSP only consults relevant agencies that have expertise in the design elements in question.

"What we do as a matter of practice is if we put elements, design elements, on our currency, we consult the relevant agencies who are experts in those elements," Tangonan told ANC.

"If we feature heroes, we go to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for, to help us review, to help us make sure it's accurate, we got all elements correctly. For the flora and fauna series that we had in the past, we had to go to DENR."

Tangonan made the explanation in reaction to the NHCP's statement that it was not consulted on the redesign of the P1,000 bill, which originally featured World War II heroes Josefa Llanes-Escoda, Gen. Vicente Lim and Jose Abad Santos.

Tangonan said he understood the concerns raised by historians, but he said there was no need to consult the NHCP with the redesign since the Philippine eagle design has been approved before by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), when it first released the flora and fauna series.

"I respect their opinion, but in this case, we would take that due diligent to consult if we were putting new, let's say, a historical design element in it. Let's say we're going to change something, or where going to have a new denomination and we're going to put a hero or a new set of heroes, then we consult," he explained.

"But in this case, there is no historical element that we have put in in the new design, and then we already have the facts vetted by DENR when we reused the eagle."

Tangonan likewise assured the public that the BSP will continue to circulate P1,000 bills with the old design until stocks run out.

"We are not going to cease the current circulation of the P1,000 banknote featuring the images of our three great heroes. So this will continue to get circulated," he said.

"We still have a buffer stock of the current banknotes that will be issued alongside with the Philippine eagle."

For Tangonan, the importance of heroes in the history of the country will not decrease even when they do not appear on banknotes.

"Whether or not images appear on banknotes or not, it cannot diminish the greatness of their heroic deeds. They paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, in the service of the Filipino people, and for that we are forever grateful. So, perhaps one of the best ways we can memorialize their heroism is by emulating their lives of service to the people," he said.

He said the redesign of banknotes happen often, so the faces of heroes may once again be featured in the future.

"It's a cyclic pattern. There'd be a time when we feature the heroes, as you recall previously, the BSP has featured flora and fauna series," Tangonan said.

"We chose to focus on the Philippine eagle being an endangered species and one of the largest and most powerful birds of prey that is native to the Philippines, as representative, again of the strength and freedom of the Filipino character."

Tangonan said there were no plans of redesigning the other denominations, reacting to concerns raised on social media.

The new polymer P1,000 bill featuring the Philippine eagle will be circulated by April 2022.

Some groups have expressed their disapproval of removing the World War II Filipino martyrs depicted on the P1,000 bill.

WWII historian Dr. Ricardo Jose of the University of the Philippines said this was a "slap in the face" of these heroes, who "paid with their lives" for the welfare of their countrymen and the country.