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Eleksyon 2013

De Lima: Comelec's 'money ban' may be unconstitutional

May 8, 2013 2:33pm

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday expressed reservations over the legality of the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) move prohibiting large cash withdrawals supposedly to prevent vote-buying for the May 13 midterm elections.

"While we concede that Comelec has broad powers especially during election period and that the objective of the subject regulation is laudable, I have reservations about its validity or constitutionality, over all," she said in an interview with reporters.

"Precisely due to such over inclusion, the implementation of this resolution may have unintended dire or negative consequences that may far outweigh the benefits," she added.

The money ban as embodied in Comelec Resolution 9688, which disallows cash withdrawals exceeding P100,000 per day, aims to fight vote-buying. Withdrawals above P100,000 using other methods like wire transfers are, however, not prohibited.

De Lima expressed fears that the ban, to be implemented from May 8 to 13, would have an adverse affect on the regular spending of the candidates for their respective bids.

"Doesn't the Comelec realize that candidates and political parties have legitimate expenses at this stage of the election period up to the election day that need to be transacted in cash, such as pollwartchers fees?" she asked.

"The Comelec reso likewise seriously undermines the constitutional proscription on laws impairing the obligations of contracts when it effectively limits cash transactions inmvolving even legitimate contractual obligations to P100,000," she added.

De Lima also reminded the Comelec that under Section 2 of Article IX-C of the Philippine Constitution, the poll body needs the "concurrence" of the president first before it can deputize government personnel from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Anti-Money Laundering Council to implement the "money ban."

The BSP had earlier expressed reservations over the ban, saying while it supports the Comelec's aim to ensure clean and honest elections, it believes that such limits may not be the best way to achieve it.

The BSP said limiting cash withdrawal and check clearing beyond P100,000 may disrupt normal business and commercial  transactions in the Philippines.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. has brushed aside concerns that the money ban would disrupt trade and commerce, saying most large transactions involve credit cards or instrumentalities other than cash. — Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News




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