Thursday, May 9, 2013

Banks urge SC to stop Comelec "cash ban"

MANILA- Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) asked the Supreme Court (SC) to halt the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from implementing its so-called "money ban," aimed at preventing vote-buying in Monday's polls.

Represented by the Romulo Mabanta Law Firm, the BAP filed its 28-page petition for prohibition with the high court at past 10 o'clock this morning.

The ban prohibits the withdrawal of more than P100,000 from banks and other financial institutions, and the "possession, transportation and/or carrying" of more than P500,000 in cash up to May 13, election day.

The petition sought the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or status quo ante order (SQAO) to stop the poll body from implementing its resolution ordering the "money ban." BAP insisted that the order is unconstitutional.

The petition stated that the poll body "acted without jurisdiction" in issuing the resolution, "acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" because the ban violated the 1987 Constitution, and "acted without jurisdiction" because the ban "invalidly amended Republic Act (RA) No. 9160 (Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001).

The petition also stressed that the ban "violates the laws on secrecy of bank deposits" because it will "require banks and other persons to look into bank deposit accounts."

"As a general rule, the State cannot arbitrarily interfere with a person's right to enjoy and use his or her personal property, including his or her money.

"As explained by the Supreme Court in construing this right, which finds its basis in the U.S. Constitution, the State must ensure that persons 'have the right to pursue their happiness and acquire and enjoy property,' such that 'there should be no arbitrary spoliation of property," the petition read.

The petition further asserted that the said ban is not "reasonably necessary to achieve its avowed purpose, and is in fact unduly oppressive" and that complying with the ban will only open banks to "all kinds of class suits by their depositors."

The Comelec said on Thursday that it was amending the resolution and would add a provision giving banks the discretion to allow withdrawals of more than P100,000 for their clients who would regularly withdraw more than this cap.

Source: ABS-CBN News

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