Filtered By: Money

SC stops Comelec from implementing money ban

(Updated 2:22 p.m.) - The Supreme Court stopped the Commission on Elections from implementing a controversial resolution that prevented the withdrawal and carrying of huge amounts of cash before the elections on Monday.
In a press briefing, Public Information Office Chief Theodore Te said the Supreme Court issued, in a two-page resolution, a status quo ante order against Comelec Resolution 9688, which disallows cash withdrawals exceeding P100,000 per day and the carrying of P500,000 cash beginning May 8, Wednesday, until May 13, Monday.
Brillantes: Comelec will not withdraw 'money ban' resolution

Despite the Supreme Court order stopping the implementation of the 'money ban,' Elections chief Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll body will not be withdrawing the resolution preventing the withdrawal and carrying of huge amounts of cash before Election Day.

At the same time, Brillantes said that while they will abide with the high court's order, the poll body will be filing a comment to impress upon the SC that coming up with the controversial resolution was not an abrupt move.

Brillantes said the Comelec en banc studied the money ban for two months.

At a press briefing earlier in the day, SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te said the high court issued a status quo ante order against Comelec Resolution 9688, which disallows cash withdrawals exceeding P100,000 per day and the carrying of P500,000 cash beginning May 8, Wednesday, until May 13, Monday.

But Brillantes said that upon receiving the SQA, he consulted with the commissioners and they agreed not to withdraw the resolution, like what they did on the expanded liquor ban when the high court also stopped them from implementing it.

“Gusto lang namin sabihin na pinag-aralan namin to. Gusto rin naming sagutin nang konti yung sinasabi ng BSP na merong secrecy involved at independent daw sila. Gusto din namin ma-clear whether the concurrence of the President is also necessary because our position is hindi kailangan ng concurrence ng President,” Brillantes told reporters.

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The high tribunal also ordered the Comelec to comment, within 10 days from notice, on the petition filed by the Bankers Association of the Philippines on Thursday that sought to stop the ban.
The SQA order was issued "[g]iven by authority of Chief Justice [Maria Lourdes Sereno] upon written recommendation of member in charge," read the resolution.

The SC order essentially kills the Comelec's initiative against vote-buying, since there is virtually no time left for Comelec to justify it before the court in the face of stiff opposition. The Bangko Sentral has already stated that it will not  enforce the Comelec order. 

BAP petition
In its petition, the BAP said the Comelec acted outside its jurisdiction when it issued the controversial ban.
"The powers conferred to Comelec under the Constitution... do not include the power to impose limitations on the withdrawal of cash, encashment of checks, conversion of monetary instruments into cash, and the possession or transport of cash," the petition read.
The petitioners added that the ban violated the due process clause of the Constitution. "The means it employs are not reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of its purpose and are unduly oppressive upon individuals."
The petitioners also said the money ban violates the non-impairment clause of the Constitution because it prohibits banks from complying with their contractual obligations to their depositors.
It also allegedly violates the presumption of innocence because it presumes that anybody seen giving or offering to another person cash in excess of P500,000 has committed vote-buying and can be arrested.
The petition also said the ban "invalidly amended Republic Act No. 9160" or the Anti-Money Laundering Act, which the petitioners argued was beyond the scope of Comelec's powers.
The petitioners also said that the ban would require banks and other persons to look into bank deposit accounts, which allegedly violates the laws on secrecy of bank deposits.
"The petitioners are placed in a situation where they are 'damned if they do, damned if they don't.' If they follow the Money Ban Resolution, they will be swamped with all kinds of suits by their depositors for preventing them from withdrawing their hard-earned money," read the petition.
"If they don't comply with the Money Ban Resolution, they will similarly be at risk of civil and criminal prosecution for supposedly violating election laws, especially for the crime of 'vote-buying' which the Money Ban Resolution purports to proscribe," it added.
This developed despite Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.'s statement earlier in the day that a supplemental resolution is already being circulated among the poll commissioners that would relax the controversial policy.
Under the amended resolution, discretion will be left to bank tellers and officials whether to allow cash withdrawals of P100,000 and above.

Largest bankers' group welcomes SC decision
Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) president Lorenzo Tan welcomed the development, standing firm that any policy move in the future must take into account views of all stakeholders.
"We welcome the order of the Supreme Court in protecting the rights of our depositors to their funds," Tan, who is also president of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said in a text message sent to GMA News Online.
He said the BAP intends to "help in ensuring free and honest elections," but noted that whatever "policy we come up with must consider the impact of banking business and the rights of our customers."
"The banking industry needs time to prepare for whatever measures Comelec and BSP imposes on the industry," Tan noted.

This was not the first time in recent weeks that the Supreme Court had either reversed or stopped several Comelec rulings.
The high court last Wednesday stopped the Comelec from implementing an extended liquor ban before the elections.

The SC also had earlier issued TROs against Comelec rulings that placed a cap on the TV and radio airtime of political advertisements and that ordered the tearing down of several allegedly partisan campaign posters.
The SC also favored party-list groups that contested their disqualification by the Comelec, remanding their cases back to the poll body for further hearings. —With a report from Siegfrid O. Alegado/KG/HS, GMA News