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A group of people in Bucas Grande Island, Surigao del Norte, are calling themselves citizens of Maharlika Nation, an independent tribal or indigenous people’s nation with its own currency called G Zion.

The spokesman of Maharlika Nation, Glenly Elorico, claims that one G Zion is equivalent to P200 and denominations of their money are from one to 100,000. Their International Bank of Maharlika issues the money and is seeking recognition from local private banks.

Elorico said Maharlika Nation is giving each of the 197 nations of the world P2 billion worth of G Zion as gift. Members are also getting G Zion and they are only required to register and attend a one-hour orientation about the money.

The promise of money drew hundreds of people from different provinces to visit the 24-hectare property of Maharlika Nation in Bucas Grande Island and register as member.

While Elorico insists that G Zion is legal tender whose value is backed by gold, those who have the money should wait for instruction from banks before they can use it or get their payout in peso.

A local historian of Socorro town, Edelito Sangco, shed light on the origins of G Zion and Maharlika Nation. He said its core members numbering about 1,000 were those who were convinced by people claiming to be tribal leaders to pay P3,000 to become members of the group. They were promised to receive more money from the initial membership fee they paid.

Sangco warned that the group is creating false hope for members.

Socorro Mayor Felizardo Galameda said Maharlika Nation is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, the group’s appeal to be recognized as a people’s organization was disapproved.

“There are no IP (indigenous people) here in Surigao,” the TV show KMJS quoted Galameda as saying. “They are not lumad.”

Elorico was bold enough to declare that with or without the recognition of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), G Zion is a legal tender for the tribal nation.

But does the G Zion really have value beyond zero?

To put it bluntly, Maja Gratia Malic, the deputy director for currency issue and integrity office of the BSP, said, “Wala (none).”

Malic explained that only BSP is authorized to issue currency in the Philippine territory and that the peso is the only legal tender in the country.

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