Comelec to push for law enforcing ‘money ban’ days before polls
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is urging Congress to pass a measure that will institutionalize the imposition of a “money ban” to curb vote-buying in the succeeding elections in the country.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the election body would ask the House of Representatives to consider crafting a measure similar to what it had attempted to implement during the national balloting in 2013.
“This is a Comelec initiative. We hope to bring it up for consideration so that the legislature can craft a law that will achieve the same thing, perhaps operate along the same line,” Jimenez told reporters in an interview on Friday.
A few days before the May 13 balloting, the Comelec imposed a ban on cash withdrawals of more than P100,000 from banks and other financial institutions. The unprecedented move was meant to stop vote-buying on Election Day.
But the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order against Comelec Resolution No. 9688, stopping the election body from implemening the money ban.
President Aquino, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas opposed the resolution, saying it would kill good business.
But Jimenez said the poll body still believed that the intent of the money ban was an effective deterrent to vote-buying, a perennial problem during elections.
“It is a measure that intends to curb the practice of vote-buying by prohibiting the unjustifiable withdrawal of certain sums of money or the actual possession of certain amounts of cash in the period immediately preceding Election Day,” said Jimenez, quoting their formal proposal to Congress.
Jimenez said lawmakers can help resuscitate the Comelec’s botched initiative by crafting a law for the same purpose.
“It was declared unconstitutional simply because of the absence of legislation for it. It can be cured simply by someone crafting legislation,” he said.
“The Supreme Court has already said that it needs a law. Being declared unconstitutional does not mean legislation cannot be passed for that,” added the spokesperson.
He noted that the Comelec has committed to working closely with Congress so it could come up with a law that would help stop vote-buying during the elections.
“Our resolution is already a matter of public records. We believe it will be a good starting point [for lawmakers] and if we get invited for a working group, we hope to discuss it further and see how we can improve it,” said Jimenez.