MANILA, Philippines -- Fake P500 bills are circulating in Manila, police said.
The warning was issued Thursday following the arrest of four people suspected to be members of a counterfeit syndicate during a raid and an entrapment operation in Sta. Cruz and Binondo Wednesday night.
Arrested were Erwin Cabiling, 22; Richard Reyes, 35; and Pacifico Laminato, 48, all residents of Sta. Cruz; and Ricky Chan, 45, of Binondo, Manila.
Seized from the suspects were several fake P500 bills, a laptop computer, scanning equipment, printer and other assorted paraphernalia used to produce fake money, said Superintendent Nelson Yabut, chief of the Meisic (Binondo) Police Station.
Except for Cabiling, the suspects had on them several plastic sachets containing metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, Yabut said.
The four were charged with violation of Article 168 of the Revised Penal Code (illegal possession and use of false treasury/ fake Philippine currency). Chan, Reyes and Laminato will also be charged with violation of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).
Police arrested Cabiling first after he used a fake P500 bill to buy metallic rulers from Artemio Agsalud, owner of a general merchandise store in Binondo.
Cabiling later told police he bought the fake bill from Reyes for P150. Authorities launched an entrapment operation and arrested Chan.
The law enforcers later proceeded to Room 304 of the Spring Hotel on Rizal Avenue in Sta. Cruz, where the suspects allegedly manufactured the fake bills.
?We have been receiving complaints from vendors at the 168 and Meisic malls that many buyers were paying them with fake P500 bills,? Yabut said. He said the bills were technically ?clever? copies.
The police learned that the suspects could produce up to 50 fake P500 bills a day.
Yabut said the suspects used drugs to stay awake while the manufacture of the counterfeit money was underway.