PATIKUL, SULU — The Bangsamoro Parliament showed up in full force in Sulu for the public consultation on BTA Bill No. 29, or the Bangsamoro Electoral Code.
Members of the Committee on Rules and four deputy speakers, including Atty. Omar Yasser Sema, Atty. Nabil Tan, Atty. Paisalin Tago, and Benjamin Loong, were present at the public consultation, signifying the importance of consulting constituents on the proposed code.
Representatives from indigenous peoples, civil society organizations, women’s groups, religious groups, youth sectors, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions took part in the consultation. They will also submit written position papers to the Rules Committee.
“No other region can enact their own electoral code; the electoral code that will be crafted will conform to our tradition, customs, tradition, and practices,” said Atty. Tago, noting that this is the first electoral code in the country.
He emphasized the significance of the proposed code, saying that “the electoral code will guide local government officials in how to govern their respective barangays, municipalities, and cities.”
Since it is the Parliament’s responsibility to put the interests of the public into policy and law, Presiding Chair Atty. Jose Lorena emphasized the importance of conducting public consultations.
Consultation, according to Lorena, was the first step toward unifying the Bangsamoro as one people.
“When you consult the people, you are bringing them into the governance of BARMM, you are putting the Bangsamoro as one people—united,” he added.
Deputy Speaker Benjamin Loong also expressed his gratitude to every sector that participated in today’s public consultation, especially His Royal Highness Sultan Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and the first lady of Sulu, Hja. Nurunisah Tan.
He emphasized that the electoral code is one of the priority bills that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament must pass during the transition period.
Engr. Don Mustapha Loong and Tarhata Maglangit, both members of parliament, urged the women and youth sectors to submit position papers and work together on them.
Deputy Speaker Atty. Omar Yasser Sema also stated that reserved seats will be provided for youth, women, religious, and traditional leaders.
“We want to assure you that the process and procedure for selecting their representatives will be fair and in accordance with what they have agreed on,” he said.
Under BTA Bill No. 29, reserved seats and sectoral representatives will constitute at least 10% of MPs, with two seats reserved for non-Moro indigenous people and settler communities. Each of the following groups will have one sectoral seat: women, young people, traditional leaders, and the Ulama.
While Deputy Speaker Atty. Nabil Tan clarified that the proposed electoral code, in pursuit of autonomy, has new features, citing the Bangsamoro Electoral Office, which will be under the control of the Commission on Elections.
“We are also looking to see if the proposed bill is constitutional and fair for all stakeholders, and we will go through that process during the deliberations in the plenary,” he said.
The BEC seeks to establish a Bangsamoro Electoral Office that will serve as the central body of BARMM in the supervision of all elections, with delegated powers from the Commission on Elections, to ensure compliance with laws and other pertinent rules of the Commission. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)