(File photo)

MANILA – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) said stringent measures are in place against the proliferation of fake banknotes, like those dispensed through the automated teller machines (ATMs).

This, as the central bank earlier called on the public to be more vigilant on checking paper bills they get even from ATMs.

“ATM services are part of core banking functions, and banks are bound by law to exercise the highest degree of diligence in protecting their clients’ interest. The BSP will hold the banks accountable should they fail to observe measures to protect their clients,” BSP said in a public advisory on Friday.

The central bank said financial institutions “have a responsibility to guarantee that banknotes coming from their ATMs are genuine, consistent with the BSP’s Financial Consumer Protection Framework, which requires financial service providers, such as banks, to conduct ethical business practices and not to engage in any practice that may cause harm to the consumer.”

The ATM system, it said, “performs soundly under recognized risk management guidelines, and the BSP’s comprehensive approach to safeguarding the Philippine currency includes well-defined mechanisms for reporting doubtful currencies, for examination by the BSP.”

“Thus, the public is encouraged to report any untoward incident to their respective banks or the BSP, for appropriate action,” it said.

The BSP also disclosed that it has requested lawmakers to enact the “Financial Products and Services Protection Act or the Financial Consumer Protection Act.”

“The said legislative measure, if enacted, will address the gaps in our existing laws and better equip financial regulators, such as the BSP, with adequate legal authority to respond to complaints and enforce prudent, responsible, and customer-centric standards of business conduct. Said bill is currently pending in Congress,” it said.

It assured the public that the central bank would continue to enforce rules and regulations to maintain a sound and stable financial system for consumers.

The BAP, in a statement, has guaranteed the public “that the banking industry is a proactive partner in eradicating the circulation of counterfeit banknotes.”

"Banks implement strict cash management services protocols and meticulous security procedures to follow Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) guidelines for the transit and loading of fit banknotes in ATMs," the BAP statement read.

“While bills in ATMs do not come directly from a bank’s transactions of the day, banks have always maintained qualified personnel trained and equipped to identify counterfeit banknotes to prevent these fake banknotes from entering the banking system,” it said.

It also encouraged the public to report to authorities any instances wherein they suspect that the banknotes they have are counterfeit.

“The making and importing of counterfeit money is a criminal act, and we join the BSP’s call for vigilance in identifying counterfeit money. The partnership between the BSP and BAP, together with a vigilant public, will pave the way for ensuring that counterfeit money and their sources are fully eradicated,” it added. (PNA)