Comelec starts preparations for Bangsamoro plebiscite

Bangsamoro (MNS Photo)

Bangsamoro (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has started preparations for the holding of a referendum for the creation of Bangsamoro political entity in Mindanao.

A Sub-Committee on the Bangsamoro Plebiscite—chaired by Commissioner Al Parreño and co-chaired by Commissioner Luie Tito Guia—has been formed to prepare for the holding of the referendum.

Through the sub-committee, the Comelec will be in active communication with various stakeholders such as the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and leaders and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

A special task force was also created to oversee, supervise and control the preparations for the conduct of the plebiscite.

The sub-committee was formed even as the draft for the Bangsamoro Basic Law has yet to be finalized by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

Last month, the MILF signed a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the government for the establishment of the new Bangssamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Once the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is finalized, it will be submitted to President Benigno Aquino III, who will forward it to the Congress for approval. Aquino is expected to certify the draft law as urgent.

Once enacted, the Basic Law will be subjected to a plebiscite covering the existing geographical area of the ARMM; the six municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Pantar, Nunungan, Tagaloan and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte; 39 villages in North Cotabato; and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela.

The deal also states that adjacent areas can choose to form part of Bangsamoro’s territory via a resolution from their local governments, or a petition of at least 10 percent of all qualified voters in the area submitted two months before the ratification of the law creating the new political entity.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez expressed confidence over the poll body’s handling of the preparations for the plebiscite and the 2016 national and local elections.

“At this stage, it is all just preparations. Just being ready for the law when it comes out ,” he said Wednesday.

On Monday, Malacañang asked the Comelec to start preparing for the conduct of the plebiscite, which shall determine the scope of the Bangsamoro region.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes has earlier said he wants the plebiscite to be held in 2015, a year before the 2016 presidential election. (MNS)

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