(Updated 7:32 p.m.) Voting 4-1, the Commission on Election has extended the liquor ban to five days from the previous two days.
“Our feeling is that it is the heat of the end part of the campaign, very close to the election. We want to make sure that it will be quiet and peaceful at least five days before the elections,” Elections chief Sixto Brillantes Jr. told reporters Wednesday.
“That would lessen the tension kasi maraming nag-iinuman lalo na pag Saturday, miting de avance,” he added. He said Sunday is a non-campaign period.
In a minute resolution, the Comelec en banc said the liquor ban will be in force and effective from May 9, 2013 (Thursday) to May 13, 2013 (Monday) Election Day.
Brillantes, Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph and Grace Padace voted in favor of the extension of the liquor ban.
Commissioner Christian Robert Lim dissented and adopted the position of the law department that the Comelec cannot expand the period provided for in the law.
Section 261 (dd) (1) of the Omnibus Election Code states that it is prohibited for “any person who sells, furnishes, offers, buys, serves or takes intoxicating liquor on the days fixed by law for the registration of voters in the polling place, or on the day before the election or on election day.”
It further states that “hotels and other establishments duly certified by the Ministry of Tourism as tourist oriented and habitually in the business of catering to foreign tourists may be exempted for justifiable reasons upon prior authority of the Commission: Provided, further, That foreign tourists taking intoxicating liquor in said authorized hotels or establishments are exempted from the provisions of this subparagraph.”
The Comelec made the decision upon the request of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino to extend the liquor ban to 45 days.
Brillantes said they did not grant Tolentino’s request because the period is too long and “there will be an adverse reaction from the liquor manufacturers.”
He, however, admitted that they did not consult the liquor industry before issuing the decision.
Further, Brillantes said that they will welcome anyone who would question their resolution before the Supreme Court.
In a text message to GMA News Online, Tolentino thanked the Comelec for its decision.
"We would like to thank the Comelec for addressing our proposal to review the merits behind extending the liquor ban from existing 24 hours to five days," he said.
"Though not as petitioned originally, we still see this as a good start to helping reduce road accidents, electoral violence and should lead to a more sober and meaningful discussion of electoral issues," Tolentino added.
The Distilled Spirits Association of the Philippines, a group of local liquor makers, said it will "respect" the Comelec decision.
"We will respect the Comelec's decision to extend the ban to five days. Ultimately, it will be the retailers and consumers who will be affected," said the group's president Olivia Limpe-Aw in an e-mail to GMA News Online. — with Gian C. Geronimo/RSJ/KBK, GMA News