MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the petition of the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) against the money ban order by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the May 2013 elections.
In a 9-page resolution, penned by Associate Justice Arturo Brion, the high court ruled that the petition has been rendered moot and academic.
"[T]he Money Ban Resolution was effective only for a specific and limited time during the May 13, 2013 elections, i.e., from May 8 to 13, 2013.
"With the May 13, 2013 elections over, the Money Ban Resolution no longer finds any application so that the issues raised have become moot and academic," the resolution read.
BAP questioned Comelec Resolution No. 9688, dated May 7, 2013, entitled "In the Matter of Implementing a Money Ban to Deter and Prevent Vote-Buying in Connection with the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections," pointing out that the ban violates several constitutional rights.
BAP stressed that the money ban violates the right to due process because it unduly and unreasonably restricts and prohibits the withdrawal, possession, and transportation of cash exceeding P500,000, and curtails legitimate activities and businesses.
BAP also claimed that the money ban violates the constitutional presumption of innocence because of its provision that states "all cash being transported and carried exceeding [P500,000.00] shall be presumed for the purpose of vote-buying and electoral fraud."
A status quo ante order (SQAO) was issued by the high court on May 10, 2013 that prevented the implementation of the money ban resolution.
NO RULING ON MERITS
The high court pointed out that it did not rule on the merits of the case, even as there are cases where, in spite of being moot and academic, a ruling on the merits and legal arguments is still handed down.
The high court said that exceptions to the moot and academic principle are only applied to "situations where: (1) there is a grave violation of the Constitution; (2) the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved; (3) the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (4) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review."
The high court said the fourth requirement was not present in the money ban case, and therefore, there was no use considering the presence of the 3 other requirements.
"We note that the Comelec did not make any parallel move on or about the May 13, 2013 elections to address the evil that is the Money Ban Resolution sought to avoid and, in fact, it did not issue a similar resolution for the October 28, 2013 barangay elections.
"[W]e believe that it is now premature for the Court to assume that a similar Money Ban Resolution would be issued in the succeeding elections such that we now have to consider the legality of the Comelec measure," the resolution read.