Comelec withdraws extended liquor ban; will no longer contest SC's TRO

QUEZON CITY, May 9 -- Chairman Sixto Brilliantes can now have his favorite drinks for three more days.

This is what the chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said in jest as he announced to media Thursday that Comelec is withdrawing its minute resolution (Comelec Minute Resolution No. 13-0322) on the extended liquor ban.

Brilliantes made the announcement at the turn-over ceremony of the source code for the 2013 National and Local Elections held at the Comelec Headquarters.

The Supreme Court (SC) issued on Wednesday a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the five-day liquor ban effectively cutting down the ban into two days.

The TRO was granted to petitioners Food and Beverage Inc. and International Wines and Spirits Association who claimed that the poll body failed to hold public hearings on the extended liquor ban that will severely affect their industries.

The two petitioners also said Comelec has over-exercised its rights in rule making by changing certain parts of the Omnibus Election Code.

Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code prohibited “any person who sells, furnishes, offers, buys, serves or takes intoxicating liquor on the days fixed by law for the registration of voters in the polling place, or on the day before the election or on election day.”

Violation of the ban carries a maximum penalty of 6 years imprisonment.

Brilliantes added that the ban was extended based on the suggestion of Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino to have a two-month ban.

The commission granted only five days.

Based on the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, the selling and buying of alcoholic beverages is prohibited from 12 midnight of May 12 up to 11:59 pm of May 13.

Drinking alcoholic beverages within polling places is likewise prohibited.

But it's not going be a two thirsty days for people who love drinking.

Drinking within private properties is allowed.

Foreigners can order their hard drinks in hotels and establishments certified by the Department of Tourism that have liqour ban exemptions from Comelec.

For more information on the liquor ban, check out the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines at (Lyndon Plantilla/Media ng Bayan).