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MANILA, Philippines – For the October 30 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will reintroduce the “money ban,” a policy discontinued in the 2013 elections. But this time it will be slightly different.
Instead of banning withdrawals of huge amount of cash, the Comelec will only prohibit people from carrying it in the run-up to election day.
The “money ban” is part of the draft resolution written by the poll body’s task force against vote-buying, which Comelec Chairman George Garcia said will be implemented for the 2023 polls.
“For the period of five days before and on election day, it is prohibited to possess, transport, and carry cash exceeding P500,000 or its equivalent in any foreign currency,” Comelec committee on kontra-bigay secretary Glinis Tamondong said on Tuesday, August 22.
She added Comelec checkpoints which would be in place during that period will be tasked to enforce the policy.
Cashiers or disbursing officers who transport and carry cash exceeding P500,000 by nature of their business or profession are exempted as long as they are in the actual performance of their duty and have proper documents with them.
In 2013, the Comelec announced the “money ban” policy to curb vote-buying a week before election day.
But it was met with pushback even from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which was reluctant to limit bank withdrawals to P100,000. The Supreme Court eventually intervened and blocked the Comelec from enforcing the policy.
“We won’t ban withdrawals,” Garcia told reporters on Tuesday night. “We don’t disrupt the banking system.”
Going after online transactions
The draft resolution classified the giving of money through digital, mobile wallet, or online banking transactions as vote-buying.
The Comelec will also “presume” that certain acts are vote-buying, such as promising something of value in consideration for someone’s vote, long lines of registered voters for the distribution of money and goods to induce them to vote for or against a candidate, house-to-house election campaigns which involve the giving of money and goods, and holding of talent shows that involve the distribution of prizes by candidates, among others.
The poll body added any “law enforcement officer or private person” may arrest a vote-buying offender without a warrant.
A complaint center would be operational from August 28 to October 31 to receive reports of vote-buying and vote-selling.
The Comelec said it will also enforce a total ban on distribution of ayuda or assistance in the form of food, transportation, and medical, education, burial assistance. – Rappler.com