THERE is some sort of money laundering taking place at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

But it’s not of  the criminal kind.

Following a successful bid in breaking the existing world record for the longest line of coins the other week, the project organizers  are now in the documentation stage.

Before the Guinness officials  formally confirm and validate the record-breaking feat, they require detailed documentation (in the form of photos and videos) of the project.

The record-breaking project, called “Barya ng mga Bayani: The Power of Small Change,” was held in front of the Quirino Grandstand (near Rizal Park or Luneta) in Manila for two days starting Nov. 30.

The organizers, led by the BSP Officers Club, the BSP Employees Association and Kabayanihan Foundation, collected 25-centavo coins from the public for the past several weeks, in a bid to highlight the importance of coins amid the artificial coin shortage in the country.

The BSP has noted that despite the annual production of coins, a large part of these fail to circulate in the market, resulting in a significant shortage in some parts of the country.

As much as possible, the BSP emphasizes, coins should not be left sitting in one place (piggy banks, donation cans, etc.) for long.

Dr. Greg Suarez, president of the BSP Officers Club, said that there is now a need to “untape”  and wash  the millions of coins (roughly 6.5 million) that were used during the Nov. 30 event.

The coins had previously been taped together to ensure the straightness of the coin chain.

The chain, stretching to 73.02 kilometers, broke the United States record of 64.8 kilometers.

“An effective way of doing this (untaping the taped coins) is soaking it in soap and water,” Suarez said.

BSP employees, aided by Manila Youth volunteers, have started “laundering” the coins during their free time.

Major supermarket groups  in Metro Manila have offered to  buy the “laundered” coins at par.

The proceeds will be used to build three public school classrooms.

Atty. Vicente Aquino, executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), even encouraged this “money laundering” activity.

“No worry everyone. The AMLC will not examine or freeze your assets...whether cash or in kind, liquid or hard,” Aquino said in jest in an intranet message.

Just two years ago, the BSP employees in its Kalibo Branch engaged in similar “money laundering” and for which they receive a special citation from BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr.

The Kalibo Branch employees, whose office was severely damaged by floodwaters, successfully saved P755,047,678.00 worth of new bills and coins in the aftermath of Typhoon Frank in June 2008.

The BSP’s Kalibo Branch, headed by Deputy Director Leonora Templonuevo, is one of 21 regional offices and branches that report to BSP Managing Director Pedro Tordilla Jr., of the Regional Monetary Affairs Sub-Sector.

Kalibo services the cash and other banking requirements of Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Boracay.

At the height of Typhoon Frank, the muddy floodwaters had reached the cash vault and damaged all the money inside.

To save the wet bills, the BSP Kalibo officers and employees worked hard and fast 24/7 cleaning and wiping them, drying them on a makeshift charcoal stove, (there was no electricity after the typhoon) and ironing (using charcoal flat irons) the crumpled bills one by one.

Thus, the two words that have earned such a global bad rap managed to save the day.


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