Stop defacing banknotes, coins, public reminded

THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is reminding the public not to deface banknotes by writing on them.

Nenette Malabrigo of the BSP said scrawling random quotes, cellphone numbers and notes on Philippine currency is punishable by law.

Presidential Decree 247 penalizes the defacement, mutilation, tearing, burning or destruction of banknotes. Violators face a fine of as much as P20,000 and a prison term of not more than five years.

Malabrigo said the BSP accepts the redemption of mutilated banknotes under certain conditions.

Considered mutilated banknotes are those with torn parts joined together by adhesive tape; those which size has been reduced; scorched or burned; split edgewise; or has lost the signatures on it.

A damaged bill can be redeemed as long as any facsimile signature on the bill is recognizable, at least 60 percent of the bill is intact and the windowed or embedded security thread is present.

Damaged bills can be exchanged for new currency through the BSP or any bank, Malabrigo said.

Damaged coins are another matter, she said.

Coins that are reduced in weight, out of shape, bent, twisted or defaced can no longer be used for any transaction, Malabrigo said.

But a bigger problem than defaced or damaged currency is the shortage of 25-centavo coins.

During a multisectoral public information forum in Baguio City, Bangko Sentral Deputy Director Diwa Guinigundo made it clear that the shortage of 25-centavo coins is artificial.

"We don't have a shortage of coins. Regardless of denomination, what we have is an artificial shortage of coins because they are not in wide circulation," he said.

Guinigundo was addressing the concern of Benjamin Ablania of the Aurora Hill Jeepney Express Operators Drivers Association who said jeepney and taxi drivers usually run out of loose change.

Ablana said that if passengers do not have exact P8.50 which is the minimum jeepney fare, they shell out P8 because they are afraid they will not get the 50-centavo change if they pay P9.

"Nalulugi po kami. Kung meron naman kaming maisusukli ibibigay namin, kaso minsan wala talaga," Albania said.

Guinigundo said coins have been in short supply since 2007.

He traced the shortage to the delay in collecting coins from slot machines in gaming centers, computer shops that use the piso-net, vending machines and the Automated Tubig Machine or “ATM” a water dispenser popular in rural areas.

"Minsan natutulog din yung mga barya sa mga alkansiya, yung mga barya na nakokolekta sa mga simbahan at baryang ginagamit sa gambling," added Guinigundo.

The BSP has launched the Coin Re-circulation Program to encourage people to use their centavo coins.

"Hindi po natin dinidiscourage ang pagiipon ng barya. Ang sinasabi po natin ay ipalit sana ito ng publiko into legal tender para magsirkula parin yung barya," Guinigundo said.

He admitted that Bangko Sentral is limiting the minting of 25 centavos and is producing more P1, P5 and P10 coins.

He noted the Philippines has the highest per capita of coins.

On average, every person has 270 pieces of coins of different denominations.

With the country’s population reaching a hundred million, that means there are 27 billion coins in circulation every year.

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