In light of the issuance of the new peso bank notes, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has called on the public to be aware of the security features added to the bills in order to easily detect counterfeits.
Speaking at the sidelines of the launch of an anti-counterfeit campaign spearheaded by the BSP in partnership with IT firm Hewlett-Packard (HP), officials said that while the new bills are expensive and difficult to reproduce, the public can still be fooled if they do not know the security features of the new bank notes.
"The BSP has invested a lot of money and effort so our money can be secure from counterfeiters," said Fe dela Cruz, the BSP's director for corporate affairs.
"But if [the people] don't know how to identify counterfeits, then our investments are useless," she added.
New security features
According to Maja Gratia Malic, manager of the currency analysis and redemption division of the BSP, previous security features are still present in the new notes but the difference can be seen—or felt, for that matter—once one touches the bills.
"Pag sinalat mo [ang bagong bills], naka-emboss iyung pangalan, for example, 'Dalawampung Piso' at yung 'Republika ng Pilipinas'," Malic said.
Dela Cruz said this was achieved through a process called "intaglio printing," which uses more ink and takes three to four days to dry, making it difficult to be copied just by anyone.
Aside from this, Malic said the security thread usually seen in the older version of the bank notes are still present, but were made larger so as to appear more visble.
"Sa halip na 1.4 millimeters lang, ginawa nating 4 millimeters, lalo na yung P100 to P1000 pesos," Malic said. "Madali itong makita, and it changes color from green to red and vice-versa."
The usual watermark which can be seen when the bill is brought up against the light is still present, but dela Cruz said they have added the watermark of the denomination as well.
"[These] were incorporated in the printing process, and is considered an indelible mark of the bank note," she added.
In addition, inscription has been placed on the bill, the lower part of which is visible as white markings in front while the upper part is represented as dark markings at the back of the bill, both of which should appear as one coherent working when brought up against a light.
The inscription, Malic said, is written in "baybayin," a pre-hispanic script used by early Filipinos. "The script means 'Filipino' when translated," she added.
When a person receives a suspicious bank note that appears to be counterfeited, dela Cruz said it should be taken to the bank immediately.
"The bank will then give the person an acknowledgment receipt, and the bank will forward the suspicious bill to the BSP," she said.
After determining if the note is counterfeit or not, dela Cruz said the central bank will inform the bank immediately so the note can be returned if proven original.
Dela Cruz maintained, however, that the BSP will not replace bills found to be counterfeited.
"In principle, the bill has no value, so we do not have to replace it," she stressed, adding that this is the primary reason why consumers should be vigilant about detecting counterfeit money.
"It's like [a warning]. People should be more conscious [about the security features] before accepting the money," she added.
This early, Malic said some have attempted to replicate the new version of the Philippine peso bills, but these incidents are too few and considered "negligible."
"It's not alarming, mga two or three pieces lang, at very dull and smooth ang mga itsura. It's easily recognizable and smooth to the touch, compared to the rough feel of our new notes," she added.
In general, dela Cruz said, patronizing counterfeit goods jeopardizes the operations of legitimate companies in the country.
"These companies pay taxes and wages and invest a lot of money to train their personnel," dela Cruz said. "Pag mas marami ang counterfeit, mawawalan ng trabaho ang mga tao."
Just recently, the government destroyed more than $39 million (P1.6 billion) worth of counterfeit goods consisting of fake handbags, sunglasses and pirated DVDs, among others.
Despite these intensified efforts against fake goods, the country remains on the US blacklist of intellectual property righs violators.
When they were first released, the new bank notes were criticized for several geographical inaccuracies in the maps printed on the back of the new bills.
Several online observers said that the Philippine map on the P1,000-peso bill overshot the location of the Tubbataha reefs by about 300 kilometers.
Some also pointed out that the Batanas islands, the northernmost part of the country, were conspicuously absent in the map on one of the new bills.
The BSP had said that they will be correcting these inaccuracies with the next print batch, stressing that "there is nothing perfect in this world" and that they will look into public criticism.
President Benigno Aquino III, meanwhile, lashed out at critics of the new notes, saying the bills are "not a map, it's not a cartographer's sketch." — TJD, GMA News