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Philippines Clamps Down on Mutilating Coins

Most readers are aware the United States has laws regarding mutilated currency. These laws are outlined in Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code.

The United States is not alone in defending its currency from being intentionally defaced. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or Central Bank of the Philippines issued a statement in February reading, “The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas warns the public that the willful defacement, mutilation, tearing, burning, or destruction of Philippine bank notes and coins are punishable by a fine of not more than 20,000 pesos ($387 US) and/or imprisonment of not more than five years.”

The penalties for willfully damaging Philippine coins and bank notes are set under Presidential Decree No. 247.

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While in the United States there is seldom any news coverage of anyone violating 18.333USC, it is not so in the Philippines. It appears when they issued the presidential decree they meant it.

Two men were arrested on March 14 in Real, Quezon. Each was charged with mutilating 10-peso coins. According to an announcement from the central bank, Ronnie Espiritu and Rodolfo Corral were caught “defacing and removing the core metal of the 10-peso coin, which is part of the 2001 BSP coin series.”

Corral, according to the bank statement, “had previous knowledge” of the crime “and even uploaded a coin mutilation video [on] his social media account last January.”

The BSP added, Corral’s video “went viral and attracted the attention of authorities.”

The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Lucena City charged Espiritu and Corral with violating the presidential decree and Republic Act No. 10175 better known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

In February the central bank released a statement reading: “The public is also discouraged to staple bank notes and/or use adhesives to put on bank notes and coins as these will compromise their structural integrity. Bank notes and coins are issued for circulation as a medium of exchange and to utilize them for other purposes does not speak well of the due respect and dignity befitting our currency.”

Perhaps it sounds trivial that the bank is discouraging stapling bank notes together, but according to BSP Managing Director Josefa Elvira E. Ditching-Lorico of the Currency Management Sub-Sector, the central bank “enjoins the banks and the general public to ensure that the life of notes and coins is extended, by deterring unacceptable practices such as stapling and excessive folding of bank notes.”

Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation Vice President Irene D.L. Arroyo, added this will “protect the integrity of the Philippine currency, inform the public of the features of genuine notes and coins, and [should help] develop the habit of using only clean notes and coins.”

Bankers Institute of the Philippines President Dom B. Gavino Jr. recently said his organization will work closely with the BSP to “jointly provide public information campaigns and currency exchange in areas found to have the most soiled and unfit notes and coins.”

The 10-peso coin was introduced in 2000, replacing the bank note of the same denomination two years later. This is a ringed bimetal coin. Espiritu and Corral are accused of separating the central plug from the outer ring of these coins.

In 2018 a 27-millimeter, 8.0 gram nickel-plated steel 10 peso with lettered edge was introduced. This newer coin currently circulates alongside the ringed bimetal version of the denomination. At the time this article was being written the central bank had not disclosed if the ringed bimetal coin will be demonetized at some future date.

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