By Mikha Flores, VERA Files
The Commission on Elections suffered another setback after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the poll body from implementing the five-day election liquor ban that would have started today, May 9.
Because of the TRO, the nationwide ban on alcohol sale and public consumption will cover only two days – the eve of the elections and polling day itself, as provided for under the election law.
The Comelec is not keen on contesting the SC decision which was made in response to a petition filed by the Food and Beverage International Inc and International Wines and Spirits Association Inc.
“If we will withdraw the resolution or recall it, then there’s no need for us to comment,” said Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr.
The extended liquor ban was intended to help maintain peace and order during the election period. It was a compromise measure to accommodate a request by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, who had sought a 45-day ban on alcoholic drinks.
After deliberating on the request, the poll body decided to impose a five-day ban, from May 9 to May 13, extending the period from the customary two days.
The liquor ban exempts foreign tourists taking liquor in hotels and other establishments certified by the Department of Tourism as tourist-oriented. The ban carries an election offense case which is punishable by up to six years in prison.
The TRO was the latest in a series of rebuffs for the Comelec. The Supreme Court earlier suspended its decision ordering the removal of an oversized poster hanging outside a church in Bacolod.
The high court also stopped the poll body from imposing airtime limits on candidates’ political advertisements and remanded cases of party-lists to the Comelec after ruling that the party-list system should allow different types of organizations and not only the marginalized sector.
The high court also reversed a 2010 ruling in the case between Homer Saquilayan and Emmanuel Maliksi of Imus, Cavite. The SC originally upheld Comelec’s decision favoring Saquilayan but later reversed its own decision in a close vote.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true".)