Sen. Koko Pimentel seeks P1,000 polymer banknote probe

·Contributor
·2 min read
Senator. Aquilino
Senator. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III (left) following a caucus Monday, May 21, 2018, in Pasay City, south of Manila, Philippines, and the new P1,000 polymer banknote. (Photos: Pimentel –AP Photo/Bullit Marquez; P1,000 bill – Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas/Facebook)

Opposition Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III wants the Senate to probe the controversy over the polymer P1,000 bills due to numerous complaints over the impracticality of its use as a legal tender, and has asked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to stop its production.

According to Pimentel, who is set to be the minority leader in the incoming 19th Congress, BSP’s decision to use polymer, instead of the traditionally-used abaca in printing P1,000 bills is “very impractical to many Filipinos who are used to storing their bills on their pockets, purses, or their tri-fold wallets.”

“The issuance of these polymer bills to replace our old banknotes is absolutely absurd. Our bills should be designed in such a way that they can withstand a minimum amount of abuse like crumpling and folding. Parang gusto pa yata nila ilagay sa frame yung bills para kunwari matibay, (Maybe, they want the people to put it in a frame to ensure its durability)” said Pimentel.

“The BSP should suspend the production of these banknotes ASAP,” Pimentel added.

Pimentel also said that while polymers may be considered sturdier than abaca, polymer banknotes are very sensitive to chemicals, and very difficult to store. He also expressed concern that the government is creating another problem by replacing abaca which could impact its $97.1 million per year production industry.

Citing Department of Agriculture data saying that the Philippines is dominating the global abaca trade, Pimentel also questioned BSP’s “rather arbitrary and hasty changes in our monetary design for the purpose of crafting legislation on this matter.”

In his proposed resolution, Pimentel is interested to know, among many others, how much is the cost of design changes in coins and banknotes, the different agencies involved in this shift to polymer, and whether it really is a limited series given that, according to an announcement by the BSP, around 500 million copies, or a total worth of P500 billion, will be printed.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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