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Question money ban before SC, Comelec chief dares critics

The Commission on Elections on Wednesday dared critics to question before the Supreme Court its surprise ban on withdrawing large amounts of money during the run-up to the May 13 polls. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a radio interview the poll body will comply if the high court were to issue a temporary restraining order on the "money ban." "I hope somebody will go up to the Supreme Court today. Kung bigyan ng TRO, e di okay lang (If the high court issues a temporary restraining order, that is okay with us)," Brillantes said in an interview on dzBB radio. He also brushed aside concerns that the money ban would disrupt trade and commerce, saying most large transactions involve credit cards or instrumentalities other than cash. Brillantes added it would indeed be suspicious if one were to carry around P1 million in cash in a bayong (bag). "Normal commerce does not require you should be holding half a million pesos in cash," he said. Also, he insisted the ban will not violate bank secrecy laws, saying the Comelec will not require banks to report the identities of those withdrawing large amounts. On Tuesday, the Comelec issued a resolution implementing a “money ban” beginning Wednesday until Election Day on May 13. The money ban as embodied in Comelec Resolution 9688, which disallows cash withdrawals exceeding P100,000 per day, aims to fight vote buying. But withdrawals above P100,000 using other methods like wire transfers are not prohibited. Earlier, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas joined those who voiced concern over the money ban. In a statement, the BSP said that while it supports the Comelec's aim to ensure clean and honest polls, it believes that such limits may not be the best way. The BSP said limiting cash withdrawal and check clearing beyond P100,000 may disrupt normal business and commercial  transactions in the Philippines. Also, the BSP said it is constrained from enforcing the Comelec resolution as it would involve looking into bank deposit accounts and may violate bank secrecy laws. — LBG, GMA News