TAWI-TAWI—A civil society organization for persons with disabilities (PWD) called for the inclusion of provisions friendly to them on the last day of public consultation on the Bangsamoro Electoral Code held today in this province.
Prof. Saturnino Apdal Jr., president of the Tawi-Tawi Alliance of Persons with Disabilities, made a plea to the authors of the Bangsamoro Electoral Code, saying, “we call on the drafters of the Code to consider making a Vulnerable Sectors Bureau.”
According to Apdal, the bureau will function similarly to the Commission on Elections’ Vulnerable Sectors Office.
On the proposed Bangsamoro Electoral Code, the Bangsamoro Electoral Office will be divided into six bureaus: Party Representation, Constituency Representtaion, Election Assessors, Provincial Operations, National and Local Election, and Administrative and Finance.
“We envision that a same office can be created to give emphasis to the needs of the vulnerable sector,” Apdal said.
He added that the establishment of a vulnerable sector bureau will result in a “more inclusive conduct of elections.”
He further suggested that the bureau may help with assisted voting, accessible information materials, the provision of PWD-friendly accessible polling places (APP) and emergency polling places (EPP), the prioritization and observance of express lanes, and an inventory of registered qualified PWD voters.
The inclusion of PWD as sectoral representatives was also suggested.
Only regional sectoral representatives duly accredited by the BEO are permitted to vote in sectoral representative elections under BTA Bill No. 29.
In the same proposed code, the sectors mentioned with corresponding ministries are Indigenous Peoples, women, youth, and ulama, or religious leaders.
“Please review and intensify the implementation of the mandated sectors for equal representation in the Parliament,” Apdal noted.
In response, Member of the Parliament Amilbahar Mawallil, who represents Tawi-Tawi in the Bangsamoro Parliament, said he has introduced legislation to establish a PWD office in the region.
“I hope to engage you in this conversation, and may the MPs who are here support the bill that I proposed,” he said.
Mawallil, who vowed to protect the interests of the province, said that through the public consultation, he hopes to get the support of the MPs in advancing the cause of Tawi-Tawi.
Meanwhile, MP Dr. Kadil Sinolinding, an opthalmologist by profession, said that “all your suggestions are well-taken, and we are with you in this stand.” (LTAIS- Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)