The Commission of Election (Comelec) will be deploying 2.8 million ballots in Mindanao starting next month for the plebiscite of Republic Act (RA) 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
In an interview, Comelec spokesman James B. Jimenez said they already completed the printing of the ballots for the plebiscite for Jan. 21 and Feb. 6 in 2019.
“The [printing of the] ballots were completed on Dec. 10,” Jimenez said.
Comelec will be using version of the ballots the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and “contiguous” areas, which will be participating in the plebiscite.
After the plebiscite, the poll body said the final canvassing of the plebiscite results will be done in Manila.
“We hope to come out with the result within four days [after the holding of the plebiscite],” Jimenez said.
If ratified, RA 11054 will lead to the creation of the newly Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which will be replacing the ARMM.
With only less than a month before the event, Comelec has started addressing public concerns related to the plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL.
Foremost of the said concern is the issue of security and the credibility on the outcome of the electoral activity.
Jimenez said over 5,000 personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be deployed in Mindano during the plebiscite to ensure security near the polling sites.
He also noted they are now in the process of accrediting observers from election watchdogs like Legal Network pf Truthful Elections (Lente).
“We accredited several domestic observers. Like Lente, seeking the accreditation of more than 400 domestic observers,” he added.
Comelec is also currently hard at work in its information campaign against misinformation surrounding the plebiscite.
“The biggest disinformation that we have is the news going around that voters need to present an ID to vote….they don’t need an ID to vote,” Jimenez clarified.
To further ensure the credibility of the plebiscite results, Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said a committee was created headed by Commissioner Al A. Parreño to oversee the holding of the plebiscite.
He said the measure aims to minimize his intervention in the plebiscite especially since he is related to one of the chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is advocating for the BOL ratification.
Abas said he will also be not participating in the plebiscite even if he is entitled to be as a registered voter of Cotobato City.
“I don’t want to be tagged as bias…I will try as best to keep my hands off to avoid affecting the integrity of the plebiscite,” Abas said.
“Hopefully, whatever will be the result [of the plebiscite] will be acceptable to all,” he added.