Thursday, February 6, 2014

Government prepares for Bangsamoro plebiscite

From the Manila Times (Feb 6): Government prepares for Bangsamoro plebiscite

The government has started laying the groundwork for the conduct of a Bangsamoro plebiscite which may be held next year, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.

Brillantes said the government peace panel has started consultations with the poll body. The commission, he added, has created a special committee that will determine on the election-related provisions of the Bangsamoro law.

He added that the Comelec body, headed by Commissioners Al ParreƱo and Luie Guia, had conducted meetings with the peace panels to discuss what provisions to include in the plebiscite.

“Pinag-uusapan na namin para malaman, kumunsulta anong provisions ang ilalagay nila sa batas ng plebiscite, paano ang elections,” [We have been discussing this to know and to consult what provisions they are going to include in the law of the plebiscite and how the election will be done,”] Brillantes said.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez earlier said the poll body will be ready to hold a plebiscite when and if Congress enacts the basic law that will create the Bangsamoro entity.

The Bangsamoro is seen to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Recently, the government and the MILF panels formally signed the last annex to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that seeks to end the conflict in Mindanao.

Brillantes said the 2016 national polls will not be affected if the Bangsamoro plebiscite will be held in 2015.

“Walang problema ang plebiscite madali lang naman ‘yan e. Wala halos preparations diyan, except siguro ‘yung mechanical preparations,” [There is no problem with the plebiscite, it is easy. There is almost no preparation for it, except maybe on mechanical preparations,”] he said.

 Congress leaders said the proposed Bangsamoro law will be passed before the year ends.

Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said both chambers will work for the swift passage of the Bangsamoro law.

“On top of our list is the Bangsamoro Basic Law which we will pass before the year is over. We’re not talking here of how it will look like. The point here is we have to have the basic law,” Drilon said.

Belmonte said lawmakers will scrutinize the law.

“Unang-una, ‘yung Bangsamoro basic law, we were assured na walang Charter change doon,” Belmonte said. “We are fully supportive of the Bangsamoro agreement and we will just wait for the draft bill.”

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