Officials of the Catanduanes local government opposed plans of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to test polymer for banknotes, replacing abaca fiber as the primary material for money bills.
In a joint statement, Catanduanes governor Joseph Cua and representative Hector Sanchez recognized that the shift to polymer meant stronger and more hygienic banknotes than abaca fiber.
BSP Deputy Governor Mert Tangonan previously claimed that polymer bills had a lower bacterial count, an added consideration amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
That said, Cua and Sanchez maintained that the shift from paper banknotes to polymer posed “impending harm on the abaca industry, particularly the abaca farmers and producers here in Catanduanes whose products yield up to 30% of abaca production in the country.”
Catanduanes is the Philippines’ biggest producer of abaca fiber and is recognized as the nation’s abaca capital.
Cua and Sanchez added that the shift to polymer, although minimal, would worsen the plight of abaca farmers who were still reeling from the impact of typhoon Rolly, which hit the province in November last year.
“We urge the BSP to carefully consider the implications of this decision, as it may result in the displacement of abaca farmers and employees in Catanduanes, which produce about 90% of the region’s abaca and contribute significantly to the Philippines’ multibillion-dollar abaca industry,” the officials wrote.
The BSP previously bared plans to test polymer on P1,000 bills on a limited basis in early 2022.