The faces of Josefa Llanes Escoda,
The faces of Josefa Llanes Escoda, Vicente Lim and Jose Abad Santos will be replaced by the critically-endangered Philippine eagle on the new polymer Php1,000 ($20) banknotes. Image Credit: BSP / Gov. Benjamin Diokno

MANILA: The head of a Philippine eagle will replace the faces of three World War II heroes on the Php1,000 bank note, according to the country’s central monetary authority.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno told reporters about the new design of the Php1,000 bill (about $20) to be made from water and dirt-resistant polymer. and rolled out by the fourth week of April 2022.

Three of the Philippines' remarkable figures Josefa Llanes Escoda, Vicente Lim and Jose Abad Santos — will now be replaced by the monkey-eating eagle, which is endemic to the Philippines.

Escoda is famously known for campaigning women's suffrage and as the founder to the Girl Scouts of the Philippines. Vicente Podico Lim, born in the city of Calamba, was a Filipino brigadier general and World War II hero, and the first Filipino graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point.

Philippine pesos bills pesos 1,000 php
The 1,000-pesos note currently in circulation showing Josefa Llanes Escoda, Vicente Lim and Jose Abad Santos.

José Abad Santos y Basco was the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The Japanese soldiers captured him and his son Pepito in Cebu, central Philippines. Although he had nothing to do with military operations, they imputed him the destruction of bridges and other public works in Cebu.

The Japanese wanted Abad Santos to swear allegiance to the Japanese flag. "I would rather die than be a traitor," he said bravely to his captors. "I would prefer to die rather than live in shame." Before he was shot to death on May 2, 1942, his last parting words were: "Do not cry, Pepito, show to these people that you are brave. It is an honour to die for one's country. Not everybody has that chance".

Fauna and flora

When asked why the heroes in the banknotes were replaced in the banknotes’ new look, BSP governor said “the new series will focus on fauna and flora in the Philippines."

Diokno said the BSP the new design, which was approved by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. The issuance was subsequently approved by the BSP’s Monetary Board and the Office of the President.

In October, the BSP announced it has been authorised to circulate 500 million pieces of P1,000 polymer banknotes as part of a test for its adoption.

A critic of the new design, however, raised objections. Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) pointed out "glaring errors" in the new banknote, including a misspelling of the Philippine eagle's scientific name.

The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), also known as the monkey-eating eagle or great Philippine eagle — is a critically-endangered species of eagle.

It is one of the rarest birds in the world, with an estimated population of fewer than than 500 individuals. The Philippine Eagle, named the national bird of the Philippines in 1995, was the official mascot for the Southeast Asian Games competition in 2005.

The Reserve Bank of Australia and its wholly-owned subsidiary Note Printing Australia will produce the new Php1,000 polymer banknotes, and marks the BSP's push to shift to the material instead of cotton and abaca.

Each new note bears the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte and Diokno and will be circulated from the fourth week of April 2022.