• Monday, Oct 07 2013
  • Written by  Haron Meling, Chief Executive Assistant, BTC

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in coordination with the Australian Aid for International Development (AusAid) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) conducted the workshop for designing the new Bangsamoro Electoral System for the incoming new political entity at the Alnor Convention Center, Cotabato City on October 3-4, 2013.

Bankrolled  by the AusAid, the IFES Chief of Party for the Philippines Ms. Beverly Hagerdon Thakur and Atty. Camilo “Bong” Montesa brought along a political scientist, Professor Andrew Reynolds to lecture on the topic of Choices and Consequences of Electoral Systems and Specific Issues for Bangsamoro.

With no less than BTC Chairman Hon. Mohagher Iqbal and many commissioners in attendance the workshop was well attended and very participative of the  commissioners to include their staff and assistants.

In her welcome remarks Ms. Beverly Thakur confided that IFES played roles in electoral issues in the Philippines since the 2004 national elections and that their organization had already undergone workshops in Manila among Bangsamoro stakeholders and in Cotabato on electoral system for the conceived Bangsamoro political entity.

Highlighting on the agenda of the workshop, lawyer Bong Montesa declared that in such workshops there are no experts and that the Bangsamoro themselves are the real experts for they are the stakeholders of the future Bangsamoro political entity envisioned by the peace negotiations.

For eye-opener the prevailing electoral system in the country was dissected as to the perceptions and key values related thereto. Plus factor as well as the negative aspects of the system were discussed. It may be recalled that Atty. Montesa was a part of the GRP peace panel that faced the MILF panel during the past administration.

Main lecturer was Dr. Andrew Reynolds, political scientist of British nationality residing in the United States and veteran of designing electoral systems in various parts of the globe to include those in Lesotho in Africa, Bosnia, Palestine, Aceh and many others.

The most interesting part of the workshop was the very participatory manner of laying down different options of electoral systems, identifying the plus as well as minus factors of each option and the corresponding consequences. Various options like the majority system, provincial proportional representation and  mixed proportional representation with emphasis on mainland and islands representation were lengthily discussed.

A good working tip for designing electoral system is for people to understand that their vote become seats in the legislature. To produce the desired output that is cut to tailor fit the Bangsamoro aspirations there is need to borrow good practices elsewhere and innovate new ideas to add to what are lacking in the present system. In the end a system should not be too complex to be unuseable and not too simple to be useless.

It may be recalled that Electoral System is one of the hardly fought issues in the Framework Agrement on the Bangsamoro.

The experts however left to the stakeholders which of the options best suit their choice to answer their aspirations.
Meanwhile, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission held a session after the culmination of the workshop as the Commissioners present constitued a quorum to do official business. The Transcom passed a resolution authorizing the Chairman, Hon. Mohagher Iqbal to enter into memorandum of agreement (MOA) with civil society organizations and other entities for possible tie-ups in undertaking public engagement re: the yet to be drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law and the problem of acceptability among the stakeholders in the upcoming plebiscite.
PARTICIPATIVE WORKSHOP With BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal and majority of the Commissioners in attendance the seminar on designing new electoral system for the Bangsamoro was noted for highly participative and interactive discussions in preparation for the future political entity.

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