Comelec insists ‘money ban’ is best way to curb vote buying
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) remained firm on its position that the “money ban” was the best way to counter vote buying despite the status quo ante order issued by the Supreme Court Friday.
“We are not going to withdraw it but we will have to follow the [order] which means we will have to [stop its implementation],” Brillantes told reporters in a press briefing.
“[Vote buying] has already been ongoing for so long that if we do not come out with a very drastic measure and we will continue to be cynical about anything that we do [including] innovative measures like what we adopted in the ‘money ban’ [then] we will be stagnant,” he said.
The Comelec had issue resolution 9688 that prohibits cash withdrawals from banks in excess of P100,000 from May 9 up to election day May 13. It also prohibits transportation, carrying, and possession of more than P500,000 in cash.
Brillantes has said that anybody carrying such large amounts of cash a few days before election day could be intending to use it for vote buying.
The Bankers Association of the Philippines on Thursday filed a petition before the high tribunal saying that Comelec encroached on the role of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in regulating the operations of banks and that the resolution was “oppressive”
Brillantes pointed out that a “money ban” is a new and innovative measure to curb vote buying because no one has ever been convicted for buying votes.
“We have never prosecuted a single vote buying incident in this country, it has been going on [and] it has been very very rampant,” Brillantes said citing his 25-year experience as an election lawyer.
“We still believe there is a good basis to really control circulation of money especially during this election period,” he said.
The Comelec will have to go back to its original way of fighting vote buying where the prosecution and conviction rate of vote buying is next to zero, Brillantes said.
“We will not expect too much that there will be an effective way of controlling vote buying. We couldn’t stop it for the last 25 years, how can we stop it now?” he said.
Vote buying would only result to the continuation of graft and corruption in government because candidates use it to get elected into office, Brillantes said.
“The consequences of vote buying will always be graft and corruption” because politicians who win want to get back the money they used in vote buying, he said.
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