currencies

Heroes on peso bills chance to educate, says ex-Bangko Sentral chief Cuisia

Ralf Rivas
Heroes on peso bills chance to educate, says ex-Bangko Sentral chief Cuisia

FORMER BSP GOVERNOR. Jose Cuisia Jr.

It was during the time of former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Jose Cuisia Jr. that the P1,000 bill showing World War II heroes was first released

MANILA, Philippines – Former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Jose Cuisia Jr. weighed in on the plan of the central bank to remove war heroes depicted on the P1,000 bill, saying that images have an impact on society and can educate the public.

“It is an opportunity to show valor of heroes,” Cuisia, who was BSP governor from 1990 to 1993, told Rappler.

It was during his leadership that the P1,000 banknote bearing the faces of World War II heroes Vicente Lim, Jose Abad Santos, and Josefa Llanes Escoda was first released.

HEROES’ DESCENDANTS. Then-Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Jose Cuisia Jr. (center) with descendants of Vicente Lim, Jose Abad Santos, and Josefa Llanes Escoda. Photo from Jose Maria Bonifacio Escoda

Cuisia recalled that selecting the people to put on the bill was a rigorous process, with committees researching on the lives of heroes and what they could symbolize.

He noted that Lim, a brigadier general, was chosen to represent bravery as a fighter during the Japanese occupation.

Escoda, founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and a social worker, was selected to represent social development.

Abad Santos, a former chief justice of the Supreme Court, was picked to remind people of the value of education.

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While Cuisia could no longer recall more specific details regarding the selection process, he noted that it was important for the government at that time to reflect important values needed in society.

He said he could not comment further on the move of the BSP, now led by Governor Benjamin Diokno, to remove the heroes from the banknote and replace them with the Philippine eagle.

But the decision, said Cuisia, likely underwent a thorough process similar to what they did in 1991 with the first printing of the P1,000 bills.

“Let me emphasize that there’s a committee that works on it in the BSP to do all the research and this (design) is discussed in the committee,” he added.

Cuisia also said the BSP’s move to shift to polymer from paper banknotes has advantages, such as durability.

Descendants of the Filipino heroes have already expressed disappointment over the central bank’s decision to redesign the P1,000 bill.

Abad Santos’ niece, award-winning author Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo, started a Change.org petition for the BSP to keep the current design.

Lim’s granddaughter, Victoria Ortega, is disappointed that the “Philippine eagle is now honored above war heroes who fought for our independence and built our nation.”

“Now they will be out of sight, being out of mind will follow. I think that is unfortunate, because we will eventually forget,” Ortega said. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.