GMA OKAYED P200 BILL LAST YEAR SAYS BANGKO SENTRAL
Manila, April 18, 2002 (STAR) By Des Ferriols - President Arroyo said yesterday she regretted not being consulted on a plan of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to put her image on a soon-to-be-issued P200 bill.
But a ranking BSP official disclosed yesterday that the design and release of the controversial P200 note was approved by President Arroyo as early as April 2001 and the central bank is set to release an initial batch of five million notes valued at P1 billion.
BSP Deputy Governor Armando Soratos said the Monetary Board would have to approve any alteration in the design of the P200 bill that would feature images of the President and her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal.
Soratos said the BSP had originally intended to release the new P200 bill by June 12 this year, in time for the celebration of Independence Day.
Soratos explained that BSP rules require presidential approval of the design, printing and release of legal tenders intended for general circulation. The design, printing and release of commemorative legal tenders, on the other hand, need only the approval of the Monetary Board.
Soratos added that the board would have to approve the withdrawal or alteration of the design of any legal tender that has already been approved by the President for printing and release.
The controversy over the P200 note stemmed from the tradition of issuing legal tenders that featured deceased individuals with undisputed positions in history.
The only time that the BSP released a series of legal tenders that featured someone who was still alive at the time was in 1975 when it minted P5 coins with the then President Ferdinand Marcos on the face.
BSP had printed notes featuring former presidents such as Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada, but these were only commemorative P2,000 notes.
Yesterday, Mrs. Arroyo said she regretted that the BSP had ever planned to release a new P200 bill with her image on the reverse side with that of her late father on the obverse.
"Now that there are these objections, I wish they had not done it," she lamented.
She was vague, however, when asked if she would order the BSP not to go ahead with the printing. She only said that if the BSP decides to remove her picture from the next printing, "itís fine with me because (the idea) didnít come from me anyway."
The President has been getting flak ever since the BSP made the announcement about the new P200 bills.
Administration critics have attacked her for what they called a shame-faced electioneering tactic two years before the next presidential election.
One of the worst attacks came from "running priest" Fr. Robert Reyes who said he would rather see the face of comedian and impersonator Michael V on the new legal tender than that of Mrs. Arroyo.
Reyes, parish priest of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City and head of Gomburza, an organization of nationalist Filipino priests, said putting Mrs. Arroyo on the new bills is a clever way of campaigning well ahead of time. "She isnít even dead yet," he said. "Maybe when sheís dead. Letís wait for her to die."
"Iíd rather have Michael Vís face on that bill," said Reyes, referring to the popular comedian who stars in Bubble Gang, a TV gag show where he has of late ran spoofs of Mrs. Arroyo.
At her informal luncheon press conference at Malacanang yesterday, the President expressed her dismay over the renewed talks and speculations this early about her supposed plans to run in the next presidential elections sparked by the new P200 series.
"To begin with, itís the the Central Bankís idea," she said, adding that her critics could "go to them and tell them."
"I mean, frankly, I wish, now that there are these objections, that they had not done it," she rued.
"Itís good to have my Dad declaring Independence Day (on the picture). But still itís not my idea, itís the Central Bankís," she said.
It was the late President Macapagal who declared June 12 the countryís Independence Day replacing July 4. June 12 was when Gen. Aguinaldo announced the birth of the new republic in Kawit, Cavite.
The plan for the new P200 bill was revealed on Sunday by BSP Gov. Rafael Buenaventura who said it would feature Mrs. Arroyo on her swearing-in at the Edsa Shrine on Jan. 20, 2001 as presided by Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. who would also be in the picture.
When she took over the government last year, the President did not replace Buenaventura who was appointed by Estrada, his Ateneo high school classmate. ó With Marichu Villanueva, Romel Bagares
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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