BARMM enacts electoral code


DAVAO CITY—The Bangsamoro Parliament has unanimously approved its fourth priority code of laws, the Bangsamoro Electoral Code, fulfilling a promise to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to enact the measure in the first quarter of 2023.

Presiding Chairman, Deputy Speaker Omar Yasser Sema, banged the gavel at 11:58 p.m. on Wednesday to approve the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Bill No. 29 on third and final reading. The bill is the region’s electoral law that prescribes “the structural, functional, and procedural principles of the elections, referenda, and recall proceedings” in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The measure was approved with 64 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and zero abstentions.

It was earlier approved on second and final reading on the same day despite the three-day rule “because it was certified as urgent by BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim,” the information office said. The approved law has been tagged as Bangsamoro Autonomy Act No. 35, or the Bangsamoro Electoral Code of 2023.

Chief Minister Ebrahim and BTA Speaker Pangalian Balindong led the ceremonial signing.

The information office said the new law has 11 articles consisting of introductory provisions, the Bangsamoro electoral office, regional political parties in the Bangsamoro, elective positions in the Parliament, elections upon dissolution of the Parliament, the voters, election administration, election offenses, legal fees, transitory provisions, and final provisions.

The electoral law will encourage the formation of genuinely principled political parties in the Bangsamoro region.

Ebrahim said that the members of partliament vowed to establish a government deserving of the name “Bangsamoro” when they took the oath of moral governance at the beginning of the transition period.

POLL watchdog National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) welcomed on Thursday the move of the BTA or the Bangsamoro Parliament to pass the Bangsamoro Autonomy Act No. 35 or the landmark Bangsamoro Electoral Code (BEC).

“It is hoped that the Code would pave the way for the success of the BARMM  elections in 2025,” Namfrel said.

BEC is the fourth of the six priority codes that the transition government passed since the establishment of BARMM in January 2019.

It will help define the holding of free and fair elections, a political party system that is truly based on principles and platform of government and representative of the residents of the region, participation not just in voting but also in running for office and in observing all steps of electoral processes in Bangsamoro, and the mechanisms for transparency and responsibility.

As with all laws, BEC must follow the directive under Article IX-C of the Constitution for free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.

Likewise, it is aimed at fostering greater participation and inclusivity.

Namfrel acknowledged that consultations were made for the Electoral Code to be inclusive for all stakeholders.