Rep. Lobregat presses Comelec on BBL issues PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 September 2015 11:31

by Jubels Santos

Zamboanga City District I Representative Celso Lobregat pressed the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on BBL issues, during its budget hearing last September 16, 2015, and asked if there’s a budget to conduct a plebiscite for the Bangsamoro just in case the law is passed.

Comelec Commissioner Robert Lim responded that the budget for the plebiscite is part of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). For the 2015 budget, Comelec proposed to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) budget for the BBL plebiscite but DBM removed that item and said the budget will be incorporated in the law.

Comelec also stated if it goes through regular procurement process of public bidding, it will need 6 months before the plebiscite can be held. But in case it will be be allowed to go through using the alternative modes of procurement, the period can be shortened to 90-120 days.

Lobregat said to pass the law before September 28, miracles have to happen. First miracle, the House passes it; second miracle, the Senate passes it; third, since there will be big difference in the versions, the two houses need to come up with a reconciled version in the Bicameral Conference; and last, there should be no challenge in the Supreme Court. If the law is passed by September 28 and enacted in October, we need 120 days for the plebiscite, this will be on February and it’s already campaign period. This further complicates the issue. Lobregat also mentioned that by September 28, the FY 2016 budget will be deliberated in plenary and hardly anything else will be taken up.

Another issue is the filing for the ARMM election on October 12-16. Lobregat pointed out that candidates cannot file to be minister or parliamentarians of the Bangsamoro because there is no law. So the ARMM election will push through and that is another complication.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista replied that there are many variables. They will follow the directive of the law. They were also asked if whether or not they will suspend the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) for the ARMM election given the possible passage of the BBL. As per Chairman Bautista, since there is no statutory directive for them to do so they have no choice but to continue with the process as provided by law.

Lobregat also brought out the issue on the Bangsamoro Electoral Code and the creation of the Bangsamoro Electoral Office. “Why should the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) enact a separate electoral code when elections throughout the Philippines should be the same. They should not have separate rules for the Bangsamoro,” Lobregat said.

Lobregat also raised that in the BBL, the rules for the conduct of the Bangsamoro plebiscite shall emanate from the Bangsamoro Electoral Office and will only be approved by the Comelec. “So balewala ang Comelec, maghihintay lang kayo for the preparation of the rules at kayo ministerial lang na mag-approve?” Lobregat said.

Bautista also informed the body that Comelec has submitted a position paper in respect of the draft law but had purposely not commented on the issue of creating a separate Bangsamoro Electoral Office. Bautista also said that the Cis a constitutional body and it would be an encroachment upon the functions of the Comelec.

Lobregat also raised other issues before the Comelec such as the absentee voting which he said is for national elections, as well as the special registration.

Lobregat said that he still has a lot of issues and concerns but he will just bring it up in Plenary.

Comelec presented its FY 2016 proposed budget amounting to PhP15.65 Billion before the Committee on Appropriations last September 16, 2015. — Jubels Santos