Comelec heeds SC order vs money ban

Paterno Esmaquel II
(UPDATED) It's the Comelec's 6th setback from the SC, and the poll chief leaves it at that

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – It’s strike 6 from the Supreme Court (SC) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) doesn’t want to argue anymore.

Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr said he will recognize the SC order on Friday, May 10, to stop the poll body’s controversial ban on withdrawals exceeding P100,000. The effectivity of the ban, however, will lapse after election day, May 13, and Brillantes said “we will not touch on this anymore.”

“We will just not implement it. I will talk to the other commissioners,” Brillantes said in an interview on ANC.

Speaking to reporters later on Friday, Brillantes said the Comelec will cease to implement the money ban.

He said the Comelec is back to previous, ineffective means of fighting vote buying. “Wala naman kaming nahuhuli,” he said. (We don’t catch anyone that way.)

The poll chief, however, said the Comelec will make a clarification before the high court. He said the SC didn’t consider its amended resolution issued Thursday, May 9, before it issued the status quo ante order on the money ban. He added he doesn’t want to impress on the SC that its money ban was hastily done.

Facing criticisms, the Comelec on Thursday added to the exemptions those who usually withdraw more than P100,000. The poll body leaves it up to the banks to decide who will get exempted.

On Thursday, the SC also stopped the Comelec from implementing its extended liquor ban. The Comelec then immediately scrapped the extension, saying it was not to keen on the rule in the first place.

Sixth setback

It’s the Comelec’s 6th setback from the SC.

Since April, when Brillantes bared his resignation plan and eventually withdrew it, the high court has made several other moves against the Comelec:  

  • to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Comelec’s directive to take down “Team Patay” tarpaulins in Bacolod;

  • to shake up the party list and to remand related petitions to the Comelec; 

  • to allow administration ally Emmanuel Maliksi to hold on to his seat as mayor of Imus, Cavite, despite a Comelec ruling to unseat him; and

  • to stop the Comelec’s rule imposing huge cuts on candidates’ airtime limits

Brillantes, who threatened to resign because of the SC’s rulings, earlier said: “With this series of decisions coming from the Supreme Court – TRO, status quo ante – sabi ko, para namang lumalabas na, parang sila na ang nagpapatakbo ng eleksyon. Akala ko ba kami?” (With this series of decisions coming from the Supreme Court – TRO, status quo ante (SQA) – I said, it looks like they’re the ones running the elections. I thought it was us?)

Brillantes, an election lawyer for over two decades, has spearheaded several reforms in the Comelec, including the unprecedented purge of party-list groups and the strict implementation of campaign rules. Brillantes, however, said the SC puts election reforms in limbo.

In an earlier interview with Rappler, he said his knowledge of dirty tricks works to his advantage. The unfavorable SC rulings show something else doesn’t. – with reports from Dean Lozarie/ 

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at