Comelec amends ‘money ban,’ exempts more

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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(UPDATED) Banks will decide who gets exempted, poll chief Sixto Brillantes says

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Facing criticisms, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday, May 9, amended its controversial money ban and widened its list of exemptions.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 9668-A, the Comelec adds 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.

The original Comelec Resolution No. 9668, which covers the money ban, limits cash withdrawals to P100,000 starting Wednesday, May 8, until election day, May 13.

The amended resolution states that exemptions will cover withdrawals “which to the determination of the bank are routine, regular, and made in the ordinary course of business of the withdrawing client.”

It cites the BSP’s prevailing “Know-Your-Client/Customer” policy. This requires banks “not only to establish the identity of their clients but also to have background knowledge of their normal business transactions,” according to a BSP circular.

The amended resolution also qualifies the ban on transporting and carrying cash beyond P500,000. The amount exceeding this threshold “shall be presumed for the purpose of vote buying and electoral fraud when the same is without tenable justification or whenever attended by a genuine reason which can engender a belief that the money will be used for the purpose of vote buying.”

(Read the amended resolution below.)

Supplemental ‘Money Ban’ Resolution

Connivance with banks?

In an interview, Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr said the amendment will clear various issues surrounding the money ban. He cited businesses for which it is normal to withdraw P100,000 a day, such as those involving contractors, department stores, and small and medium enterprises.

Brillantes said bankers know their depositors and customers well. (Watch more in the video below.)


Kung ‘yung regular na nagpupunta, nagwi-withdraw araw-araw ng isang milyon, eh ‘di ituloy lang nila. Kasi hindi naman nagbabago; that’s the normal routine,” Brillantes said. (Those who regularly go and withdraw a million every day, then let them do it still. Because it doesn’t change anyway; that’s the normal routine.)

What if politicians connive with banks, however? Brillantes acknowledged this possibility, saying no resolution is perfect.

He explained: “Maraming lusot. Hindi ko na iintindihin ‘yung kontsabahin. Ang daming puwedeng gawin. Gusto mo bang turuan ko ang mga pulitiko kung paano nila malulusutan ang resolution namin? Huwag naman. Alam ko kung paano sila lulusot. Meron; maraming lusot. Wala namang perfect na resolution na walang lusot eh. Meron at meron.”

(It has many loopholes. I will not worry much about connivance. They can do a lot, anyway. Do you want me to teach politicians how to exploit the loopholes of our resolution? Please don’t. I know exactly how they can skirt it. There are many loopholes. No resolution is perfect and has no loopholes. There will always be loopholes.)  

The money ban still hangs in the balance, however. Bankers on Thursday asked the SC to stop the money ban, while President Benigno Aquino III said he has not given it his mandatory nod. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.