SC stops ‘money ban’

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MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Friday stopped the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from implementing its “money ban”ahead of the midterm elections on Monday, May 13.

On Tuesday, the Comelec issued a resolution implementing a “money ban” that started Wednesday until Election Day on May 13.

The money ban, under Comelec Resolution 9688, disallows cash withdrawals exceeding P100,000 per day. The Comelec said its aim was to stop vote buying.

The court, through Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, issued the status quo ante order against the implementation of the money ban following a petition by the Bankers Association of the Philippines, which also sought the nullification of Comelec resolution 9688 for being unconstitutional.

The high court also ordered the Comelec to comment on the BAP petition within 10 days.

The BAP said that in implementing the money ban, Comelec “invalidly encroaches upon the jurisdiction of the BSP to supervise and regulate the operation of banks.”

“Respondent Comelec likewise acted without jurisdiction when it attempted to deputize the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Anti-Money Laundering Council through the money ban resolution which is clearly beyond the scope of its powers and mandate under the law,” the BAP petition said.

“Even from a plain reading of the powers conferred to respondent Comelec under the Constitution, these 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 case. These acts do not reasonably fall under ‘laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall,” the petition stated.

The petitioner added that the Comelec also violated its right to due process under the Constitution.

“The money ban resolution constitutes a deprivation of liberty and property in so far as it unduly and unreasonably restricts and prohibits the withdrawal of cash, encashment of checks, conversion of monetary instruments into cash and the possession, transportation and carrying of cash,” the petition stated.

While the purpose is laudable, the petitioner said the means to achieve it was “oppressive.”

The money ban, the BAP added, also impaired contractual obligations because it would prohibit banks from allowing depositors to withdraw their own money.

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