The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday, May 14, asked the Senate to immediately decide on the proposals to postpone the first parliamentary elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
At the last hearing of the Senate local government committee on the proposed deferment of the BARMM elections to 2025, Comelec officials stressed the urgency of the matter.
“Our only position, if I may so say, or request, is that any legislative action be made not later than July, your honors,” Comelec law department director John Rex Laudiangco told senators, echoing statements from the Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas in a previous meeting.
“As we all know, we are nearing the crux of the preparations for the 2022 elections, foremost of which is the filing of the certificates of candidacy (COCs). Katali po kasi ng filing of the COCs (What comes with the filing of COCs), your honor, is that configuration of the software, as well as the hardware. Magkakarugtong po sila (They are tied up),” the Comelec official explained.
Under the poll body’s calendar, the filing of COCs for the 2022 election is set on October 1 to 8.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which created the parliament-based BARMM, mandated the holding of its first regular elections at the same time as the national and local elections on May 9, 2022.
Two Senate bills have been filed seeking the extension of the Bangsamaro transition government and postponement of the elections in the region to 2025.
Similar proposals are also being tackled in the House of Representatives.
“We are pleading [that] the legislative intent be made the soonest so we could hurdle this specific provision of the law (BOL),” Laudiangco said.
If BARMM elections are to push through, Laudiangco called on legislators to issue the Bangsamoro electoral code, which spells out how the parliamentary polls should be conducted.
“This is [a] parliamentary election, which is not encapsulated either in the Constitution and Muslim Mindanao Act, even in the Omnibus Election Code, so we don’t know how processes by which to conduct the parliamentary elections, your honor. This is new to the Comelec,” he said.
“We cannot depend on the existing legistation to fully conduct the parliamentary elections,” he added.
“That’s why in our position paper, without taking sides, we ask for legislative intent to materialize soon, or on the other side of the coin asking for legislastive assistance in so far as how to proceed with the parliamentary elections,” Laudiangco said.
The Senate panel, led by Sen. Francis Tolentino, later decided to create a technical working group that will finalize the committee report on the proposed deferment of the BARMM polls.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said they hope to take up the proposal in plenary when Congress resumes sessions next week, May 17.
With only less than three weeks before they adjourn sessions sine die from June 5 to July 25, Zubiri asked BARMM leaders to request a certification from President Duterte to expedite the passage of the measure.