Fact check: New P500 bill to feature Philippine tarsier instead of Ninoy Aquino?

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Fact check: New P500 bill to feature Philippine tarsier instead of Ninoy Aquino?
This viral photograph is circulating social media claiming that the current P500 bill featuring former Sen. Benigno Aquino will be replaced with another note showing the Philippine tarsier. This is fake.
Philstar.com Screengrab / Arjay Angeles Channel on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — A viral photograph is circulating social media claiming that the current P500 bill featuring former Sen. Benigno Aquino will be replaced with another note showing the Philippine tarsier. 

CLAIM: "Aquino left the group!" the original post by one Arjay Angeles Channel on Facebook says on the photo's caption with a laughing emoji. "THE Official Release of BSP in APRIL 2022," he goes on to claim. 

"Goodbye Aquino family! This is the new design of our money now," a page called Ann Nang Nann Show says in Filipino in its post with the same image. Another page called Pepe News shares the image with the same caption. 

"Why is Leni on the 500?" a page called Kamay na Bakal PH said in Filipino, taking a dig at Vice President Leni Robredo who defeated Bongbong Marcos in 2016. 

RATING: This is fake


Philstar.com Screengrab

What it left out 

A quick reverse image search shows the tarsier used in the bill is actually an illustration by Russian artist Evgeny Turaev.

Royalty-free versions of the illustration are available for sale on stock photo websites such as 123rf.com, Dreamstime, and CanStockPhoto.

Sought for comment, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno told Philstar.com in a text message: "Fake news."

Though the photo itself is fake, other bank notes may still be up for redesign. 

Diokno is quoted in an article by Rappler as saying that “this is the first note in a new series of Philippine currency that will focus on the country’s rich flora and fauna.”

Philstar.com Screengrabs

Essential context

This comes after the BSP unveiled earlier this week the new design of the P1,000 bill, which primarily features the Philippine eagle instead of the former portraits of World War II heroes Josefa Llanes Escoda, Vicente Lim, and Jose Abad Santos.

Users on social media surmised that the move could be a prelude to the eventual removal of the images of the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and the late former President Corazon Aquino from the P500 bill.

Other users pointed out the use of the Philippine eagle, a symbol widely linked to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the running mate of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) pointed out what he said were "glaring errors" in the new banknote, including the misspelling of the Philippine eagle's scientific name.

"The BSP made almost the same mistake in 2010, thus, it is lamentable that the same mistake is repeated. We trust that prior to the printing of the new notes, these mistakes will be corrected, so as not to waste funds or resources," Zarate said.

READ: Researchers find links between pro-Marcos books, sites, online disinformation

Why this matters

As of this post, the first Facebook post by Arjay Angeles Channel has garnered 243 reactions, 39 comments, and 199 shares on Facebook.

However, the same photo has since been reposted by other meme pages and pro-Marcos blogs. The highest-performing post by "Sad Mood" has amassed 18,000 reactions, 931 comments, and 4,500 shares. 

Philstar.com Screengrabs

According to CrowdTangle, a social media monitoring tool, 2,083 photo posts with the words "Aquino" and "500" in the caption were published in the past seven days. Collectively, these posts yielded 156,729 interactions. 

RELATED: Fact check: Did Pope Francis publicly support Bongbong Marcos' presidential bid?

This comes amid what academics and journalists say is a disinformation campaign ahead of the 2022 elections to paint the late Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship in a positive light.

“All of these can be categorized as fundamental lies about the Marcoses: from false claims about Marcos’ brilliance and heroism to disinformation about the Marcoses’ wealth and the status of the cases filed against them,” researcher Miguel Paolo Reyes is quoted as saying in a report by VERA Files.

“They let their sanctioned book and disinformation mingle with often more crude falsities online which lets them keep and grow their loyal base."

Supporters of the Marcos family have long proposed the change to the P500 bill's design.

 with reports from Kristine Joy Patag and Xave Gregorio  


This story is part of the Philippine Fact-check Incubator, an Internews initiative to build the fact-checking capacity of news organizations in the Philippines and encourage participation in global fact-checking efforts

Want to know more about our fact-checking initiative? Check our FAQs here.

Have a claim you want fact-checked? Reach out to us at [email protected].


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