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Gatchalian on new P1,000 bill design: Memories of heroes would be erased

Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to reconsider its plan to replace the country’s World War II heroes in the P1,000 bill with the Philippine eagle, a move that he says would erase our heroes from the consciousness of future generations and deny their rightful place in history.

PASAY CITY, Philippine – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas headquarters, 18 July 2017 file. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

“We should always enrich our history by preserving the names and faces of wartime heroes as often as possible. These people are part of who we are as a nation. Erasing them from the P1,000 bill will erase them from the memory of generations to come,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

“We should, at all times and in all places, take pride in, preserve and promote our rich history, especially to the youth and generations to come. This entails refraining from acts that trivialize the symbols of recognition of our heroes’ sacrifices and martyrdom,” he added.

Last week, the central bank released the proposed new design of the P1,000 bill, which was already approved by the Office of the President and the Monetary Board. The BSP said that it came up with the design of the new banknote, which the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) approved.

But the NHCP, the primary government body responsible for the promotion of Philippine history, denied approving the removal of World War II heroes’ portraits in the P1,000 bill. The agency’s chairman Rene Escalante said all queries on the P1,000 banknote should be addressed to the BSP. Escalante added that the changes in the banknotes are up to BSP and Malacañang.

Kin of Jose Abad Santos, Vicente Lim, and Josefa Llanes Escoda—all of whom were executed during World War II—also expressed dismay on the banknote’s new design. They have pointed out that the P1,000 bill is the only banknote featuring martyrs and removing their portraits would also remove one of the few ways they are remembered.

The BSP said that the new design will be used on the new banknotes made of polymer, citing that it is safer amid the COVID-19 pandemic and more cost-effective. It is scheduled for circulation in April 2022 and the first in a new series of Philippine currency that will focus on the country’s rich flora and fauna.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, on the other hand, said that the banknotes featuring the World War II heroes will remain in circulation and will not be demonetized.