Comelec enlisted 20 foreign poll observers for BOL plebiscite

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao-GMA News reported on December 21 that the Commission on Elections has enlisted at least 20 foreign poll observers to ensure the credibility of the conduct of the plebiscite on the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic law (BOL) scheduled on January 21 and Feb. 6, 2019.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told GMA News in a chance interview last Friday that the accredited foreign election observers will come from the European Union, United States, Australia, Japan and Canada.

Why are they very important? Because they bring credibility in the electoral exercise. Having a third party observer assures the public that the world has a clear view on what is going on at the ground level,” Jimenez told GMA News.

“In that sense, it increases the comfort level on the election process,” Jimenez added.

Likewise, Jimenez also told GMA News the presence of foreign observers would ensure that the right of the people to vote would be protected from intimidation and other similar threats.

“These international [election] observers are knowledgeable of the democratic process so that the fundamental right of the people who are voting are protected, something that is important in any election,” Jimenez said during the interview.

Jimenez said the foreign election observers would be required to submit reports to the Comelec, which will be crucial in the poll body’s performance of their mandate.

The BARMM or BOL will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino considered as a “failed experiment.” 

Once ratified and the BARMM is in place, members of the Bangsamoro Parliament shall be appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte that will include the commissioners of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), and the incumbent members of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly until their term expires on June 2019.

The BARMM shall be headed by a Chief Minister who will be appointed by Pres. Duterte. Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim has been unanimously chosen by the expanded MILF Central Committee during a meeting in Camp Darapanan to be the chief minister during the transition period. 

The transition period shall start upon ratification of the BOL, perhaps by March 2019 until June 2019.

The BARMM will have block grant, on top of the at least P5 billion worth of Special Development Fund for the Bangsamoro Region every year for the next 10 years, starting 2019. (Source: GMA News)