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Coins Don't Get Respect in Philippines
flag of the phillippinesBy Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
December 18, 2008
flag of the phillippines

The late Rodney Dangerfield used to comically complain that he never got much respect. It appears the coinage of the Philippines may have a similar problem.

The coinage shortage situation has become so grave that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Philippine Central Bank) issued a Nov. 17 advisory warning to the public. The report warns the public regarding the illegal use of Philippine coins while urging people to report anyone involved in activities that include "defacement, mutilation, and smuggling of the coin." Any of these activities are criminal offenses that are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of 20,000 pesos. This criminal offense is a violation of Presidential Decree 247 and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Circular 98.

A Philippine Monetary Board member named only as Bunye is quoted in the Nov. 17 issue of the San Fernando City publication La Union as saying, "There have been various offenses committed against the Philippine coin which includes melting the 25-centavos coin to be combined with other metal components that make sinks more durable."

The La Union article continues, "Another illicit activity is the defacement and mutilation of our own coins to avoid detection at our local ports and smuggling them into some Asian countries to be used as tokens, computer parts, or even bullets and Bunye said that just a few months ago BSP currency specialists reported that they [central bank] together with NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] agents have intercepted some 17.9 tons of 1-peso coins about to be shipped to Korea."

"This activity is even seen in our local mall amusement areas and casinos where the coin is used as token - also an illegal activity which might cause [a] currency shortage due to non-circulation."

A BSP statement adds, "apart from or more than its being a metal used to buy our daily needs it (coins) also represents our country and what we have experienced as people."

The Philippines has been grappling with problems similar to those recently seen in India and nations neighboring to India. On Aug. 28 a 40-foot container was seized in a Philippine port. The container had been destined for South Korea. Inside the container were 15 bags containing about 17.9 tons of 1-peso coins dating from 1995 to 2003. The 1-peso coins of this period are composed of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel, while newer 1-peso coins are nickel-plated. The 1995 to 2003 coins were all legal tender, however as scrap metal the coins were worth more than their $30 million pesos face value (about $666,000 U.S).

In an Aug. 28 television interview Task Force Chief Undersecretary Antonio Villar indignantly said, "This is economic sabotage because we will soon be running out of coins."

NBI Deputy Director for Intelligence Services Ruel Lasala has previously gone on the record stating that Philippine 1-peso coins illegally exported have been used in South Korea as scrap metal to produce bullets, computer microchips, and tokens, however this is the first time anything has been said of the 25-centavos coins being used as a hardener when manufacturing sinks.

Perhaps the Philippine government sees this recycling of its coinage as an insult, but it still beats the coins of India being smuggled into neighboring Bangladesh where the coins are used as scrap metal to make razor blades.

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