PHILSTAR EDITORIAL: MONEY BAN DURING ELECTIONS

MANILA, MAY 10, 2013 (PHILSTAR) It was good for sound bites, but surely the lawyer who chairs the Commission on Elections did not seriously believe a ban on large cash withdrawals from banks would be feasible.

Not surprisingly, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said it could not enforce Comelec Resolution 9688, which limited cash withdrawals and check clearing to P100,000 until election day.

Apart from disrupting the normal money flow for regular business and commercial transactions, the Comelec ban would entail violations of bank secrecy laws, according to the Bangko Sentral, which has supervision over banks, quasi-banks and similar financial institutions.

Perhaps the Comelec order could have been fine-tuned, but this process can be complex and the implementation may face court challenges.

The objective of Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., however, is laudable: to curb vote-buying starting yesterday until May 13, election day.

Vote buying is believed to be widespread, but cases are documented only when complaints are filed, usually by candidates who suspect winning rivals of buying their way to victory.

No one signs receipts and those involved know enough not to be seen on surveillance cameras when money changes hands. Complainants rely on testimonies to prove their accusations of vote buying, and such testimonies can be unreliable.

Full automation of the vote eliminated a system used in the manual elections that allowed vote buyers to get official proof a receipt of sorts from the polling precinct that they were getting what they paid for. But candidates continue to woo voters with all sorts of gifts including cash, with the unspoken promise that the benefits would continue if the candidates win.

How to stop this system should be a challenge for Brillantes and the Comelec but the measures they come up with will be too late for the elections on Monday.

The Comelec effort nevertheless deserves support from the daang matuwid administration and all those who want credible elections.
 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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