MANILA -- Congress can pass legislation to strengthen the fight against vote-buying, which the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would have wanted to stop when it issued an order limiting cash possession before and during last year’s midterm polls.
In a nine-page resolution, the Supreme Court (SC) asked Congress to use its lawmaking powers to address the “circumstances and evils” the controversial money ban resolution sought to address.
"In other words, Congress can very well act to consider the required measures for future elections, thus rendering unnecessary further action on the merits of the assailed money ban resolution at this point," the SC said in junking the petition filed by the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP).
The SC did not rule on the legality of the Comelec Resolution 9688 and its amended form since the election was over and the ban only covered five days, from May 8 to May 13, 2013.
"The power of judicial review is limited to actual cases or controversies. The Court, as a rule, will decline to exercise jurisdiction over a case and proceed to dismiss it when the issues posed have been mooted by supervening events. Mootness intervenes when a ruling from the Court no longer has any practical value and, from this perspective, effectively ceases,” the resolution stated.
There were instances that the SC tackled the merits of the case in spite of being moot and academic.
This applies to situations where there is a grave violation of the Constitution; the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved; the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.
The Court noted that the fourth requirement was not met in the money ban case, thus, there was no need to consider the three other elements of the exception to the moot and academic principle.
"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,” the resolution read, adding it is premature for the SC to assume that the measure will be resurrected in future polls.
Comelec was supposed to prohibit the withdrawal of cash or encashment of checks worth more than P100,000, as well as transportation and possession of cash exceeding P500,000 or its equivalent in any foreign currency.
But the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) refused to implement the resolution because of possible breach into the secrecy of cash deposits, pushing Comelec to allow the withdrawal of money worth P100,000 and above if it is needed for daily business operations.
The BAP told SC to nullify the order, saying it effectively curtails a range of legitimate activities and violates due process.
The Court issued a status quo ante order that prevented Comelec from imposing the ban. (Sunnex)