PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday warned the public against the proliferation of counterfeit bills in the market which may be used to buy not only basic goods but even votes in the 2022 national and local elections.
The top cop said he has ordered the 17 Police Regional Offices and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to launch operations to identify and arrest persons involved in the production of fake money that could be distributed nationwide.
“HIndi dapat mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang mga taong ito lalo na ngayong papalapit na ang kapaskuhan kaya pinapaalalahan din natin ang ating mga kababayan na mag-isip-isip sa pagtanggap ng pera mula sa mga kandidatong bibili ng inyong mga boto dahil baka mabudol lang kayo,” Gen. Eleazar said.
The PNP chief issued the warning after two people were arrested by PNP-CIDG agents for possession of P82,000 worth of fake P1,000 and P500 bills supposedly set to be circulated in Central Visayas for next year’s polls.
“I commend the CIDG headed by PMGen. Albert Ignatius Ferro for the successful operation that led to the arrest of two people behind the proliferation of fake peso bills in Cebu. Mga ordinaryo nating mga kababayan ang kalimiting biktima ng mga kriminal na ito kaya titiyakin natin na pagsisihan ng dalawang ito ang kanilang ginawa,” he said.
The PNP-CIDG launched the entrapment operations amid reports that counterfeit money is being readied for use in next year’s polls.
With the help of representatives from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the agents on Monday last week arrested 35-year old Ivan Noval Luardo who yielded 52 pieces of fake P1,000 bills and 70 pieces of bogus P500 bills.
Last October 19, the PNP-CIDG also arrested Joseph Mercado Salas for possession of P24,000 worth of fake bills and paraphernalia being used to produce the counterfeit money.
Both suspects have been charged with violation of Article 168 (illegal possession and use of false treasury or banknotes and other instruments of credit) in relation to Article 166 of the Revised Penal Code before a local prosecutor’s office.
Gen. Eleazar directed Maj. Gen. Ferro to further investigate the operation of the suspects in order to identify and arrest their financiers and other cohorts.
“I also instructed the CIDG and other unit commanders to step up intelligence-gathering and operations, in coordination with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), to ensure that those who benefit from these modus will not be given opportunity to victimize our kababayans,” he said.
“Magpapatuloy ang aming kampanya upang mapigilan ang mga ganitong ilegal na gawain na magiging balakid sa ating hangaring magkaroon ng malinis, maayos, at mapayapang halalan sa susunod na taon,” he added.
Over the past few years, police have continued to arrest people involved in the production and distribution of fake bills in the country, many of them being distributed in Mindanao and parts of Metro Manila.
Officials said the circulation of fake currencies should be thoroughly addressed by the government since it destroys the credibility and value of the peso and at the same time causes huge economic distortions.
Article 68 of the Revised Penal Code makes illegal possession and use of false treasury of bank notes and other instruments of credit a crime.
In this light, Gen. Eleazar urged the public to be extra cautious this time. “I would reiterate the advice of the BPS to the public to be wary of fake money and familiarize themselves with the security features of genuine peso bills to avoid spreading fake bank notes,” he said.
“Maaaring kulong ang sapitin ng sino mang magtatangkang gumamit ng pekeng pera sa anumang transaksyon,” he added.
“Agad ninyong idulog sa pinakamalapit na police station o kaya’y i-report sa ating PNP E-Sumbong platforms kung kayo ay nabiktima o napasahan ng counterfeit na pera para agad ay magawan namin ng kaukulang aksyon at mahuli ang gumagawa nito,” said the PNP chief.
The BSP has appealed to the general public to be familiar with the features of genuine peso bills to avoid being victimized by these illegal peddlers and also to help avoid the spread of the use of these counterfeit banknotes for legal tender.
“In the 2022 elections, it is anticipated that many will attempt to run through any means in solely disrupting the government’s goal of safekeeping the elections,” Maj. Gen. Ferro said.
He added that this includes the use of fake bills to fund the campaign of some candidates.
“Paalala po namin sa ating mga kababayan na maging mapagmatyag at mapanuri sa mga kumakalat na pekeng salapi o pera sa kanilang lugar. At kung may alam po silang ganitong mga illegal na gawain ay agaran po ipagbigay-alam sa kapulisan, Ferro said.
The BSP has repeatedly advised the public to carefully check the security features of their banknotes to avoid being victimized by syndicates passing off fake off fake money.
“To ascertain the genuineness of the NGC banknotes, the public is advised to use the Feel-Look-Tilt method to check the security features,” the BSP said.
The BSP said it is verifying reports in messaging apps and social media platforms on the existence of alleged counterfeit 1000-Piso banknotes.
“Under Republic Act No. 10951, counterfeiters of Philippine currency are subject to the penalty of imprisonment of at least 12 years and 1 day and a fine not exceeding two million pesos,” the BSP said.
It said the New Generation Currency (NGC) banknotes incorporate the latest anti-counterfeiting technology and improve the visual and tactile differentiation of each denomination.
“The BSP encourages the public to immediately report any information on counterfeiting of Philippine currency to the nearest police station or law enforcement agency for appropriate action,” the central bank said.
It said the public may also reach the BSP’s Payments and Currency Investigation Group in case they come across suspected fake bills. The BSP also advised the public to “carefully feel, look, tilt their banknotes to check the identifiable security features.” and even provided a detailed illustration to distinguish real currency from well-made fakes.
“One easy way to determine if banknotes are genuine and not altered is by checking the watermark by viewing the banknote against the light from either side. The watermark in the blank space should be the same image as the portrait on the banknote and denominational value,” the BSP said.