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LOOK: Bangko Sentral's newly designed P1,000 polymer banknote, which replaces the country's World War II heroes

By NICK GARCIA Published Dec 11, 2021 12:36 pm Updated Dec 13, 2021 5:43 pm

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Dec. 11 unveiled the design of the upcoming P1000 polymer banknote, replacing the country's World War II heroes Jose Abad Santos, Josefa Llanes-Escoda, and Vicente Lim in the process.

.@GovBenDiokno shares how the new polymer P1,000 banknote would look like. It was designed by @BangkoSentral and Its issuance has been approved by the Monetary Board and the Office of the President. | @lawagcaoili

In a message to banking reporters, BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno said the central bank itself made the design, which features the country's national bird Philippine eagle, and has already been approved by the National Historical Institute.

The new banknote's issuance has also been approved by the Monetary Board and the Office of the President, Diokno added.

He said the new series of Philippine bills will do away with Filipino heroes, and would instead showcase the country's flora and fauna, as well as those with "positive Filipino images."

The new P1000 bill will undergo a limited test circulation in April 2022.

World War II heroes

The BSP issued the first P1000 bills in 1991, which featured the composite portraits of Abad Santos, Llanes-Escoda, and Lim. They're meant to embody Filipinos who fought and resisted the Japanese occupation in 1941. 

In its website, the central bank noted that the trio represents three sectors: Abad Santos, the government; Llanes-Escoda, women; and Lim, the military.

The current P1000 design from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas website

Abad Santos was the country's fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He assumed the post on December 24, 1941, just months after the onset of World War II.

He and his son were captured by Japanese soldiers in Toledo in Cebu on April 11, 1942, and were taken to a concentration camp in San Nicolas for days-long interrogation.

After refusing to cooperate, Abad Santos was brought to Parang in Northwest Cotabato. He was then executed by a firing squad on May 2, 1942.

Llanes-Escoda, meanwhile, was a civic leader who founded the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.

She and her husband Antonio Escoda provided food and medicine to Filipino and American soldiers in concentration camps.

But their underground activities were eventually discovered in 1944. The Escodas were imprisoned in Fort Santiago where the Japanese tortured them.

Llanes-Escoda was last seen alive on Jan. 6, 1945. Her remains have never been found.

Lim was a brigadier general, who was the first Filipino graduate of the United States Military Academy in West Point in New York.

He had had several assignments across the country. In 1942, the Filipino-American forces were overwhelmed by the Japanese and Lim became a prisoner of war.

Lim was among thousands who survived the Bataan Death March. After the ordeal, he took part in the underground resistance anyway, but was eventually caught again.

The brigadier general was, then, declared "missing" in 1944. Decades after, a soldier informed Lim's family that he had been beheaded with many others. His body was never found. 

Polymer banknotes

The BSP on Dec. 2 had said that it has signed a deal with the Reserve Bank of Australia and its subsidiary, Note Printing Australia, for the production of the polymerized banknotes.

Australia is the first country to issue a full series of polymer-based banknotes. It has also supplied them to other countries.

The BSP has been pushing for the usage of polymerized banknotes as current Philippine banknotes are made of cotton and abaca.

The central bank said polymer bills are less susceptible to viral and bacterial transmission and can be sanitized without damaging them. They are also more sustainable and environment-friendly.

Polymerized banknotes are also said to be more durable since they're water- and dirt-resistant.

Above all, the central bank noted that polymerized banknotes are much difficult to counterfeit due to the complexity of their printed images, as well as the added security features during production.

"It will also allow us to collect stakeholder feedback and observe changes in currency handling behavior," the BSP previously said.