By Teng L. Datu
Cotabato City Bureau Chief .
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) led by Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. signed yesterday a memorandum of agreement with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) for the conduct of an information, education, and communication campaign on the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6.
The agreement, which was signed by Galvez, Comelec Commissioner Al A. Parreño, and BTC Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, will identify the responsibilities of each party in the preparation and implementation of the voters awareness campaign in the plebiscite areas.
“With this new partnership in conducting IECs or voters education that we are about to formalize with the Comelec, I’m very confident that we will be able to ensure that the public and the voters will have correct and timely information on the conduct of the plebiscite,” Galvez said.
He also said the partnership will ensure the smooth conduct of the plebiscite.
“We promise that this will be a fair and honest election. We will be giving all the Bangsamoro people their free will to choose where they want to belong.” he said.
The ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, a legal document that honors all signed peace agreements with the Moro fronts, will be conducted through a plebiscite in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), Cotabato City, and Isabela City on Jan. 21.
Meanwhile, the plebiscite for Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, and areas whose petition for inclusion will be granted by the Comelec, is scheduled on Feb. 6.
In a press conference, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said there have been reports of disinformation being circulated in the plebiscite areas.
“The biggest disinformation we have is the news going around that people should show an ID to vote.” he said.
Jimenez said the partnership will help combat the spread of wrong information.
“As we get closer to the plebiscite, we need to augment (the voter education and information) efforts. Nakikipagtulungan ang Comelec sa Opapp at BTC para mapaigting ang ating kampanya,” he said.
Parreño, who is in charge of the Committee on the Bangsamoro plebiscite, said Comelec is almost ready for the conduct of the plebiscite, with most of its obligations stated in the BOL already fulfilled.
In his message, Comelec Chairman Sheriff M. Abbas guaranteed a clean and honest conduct of the plebiscite.
“I will assure that the Comelec will be fair in the upcoming plebiscite. I will see to it na hindi madadaya ang mga boto sa plebisito,” he said.
For his part, Jaafar said the partnership is “another milestone in guaranteeing credibility, orderliness and acceptability in the the plebiscite.”
He also called on Opapp and the Comelec to help prevent threats and intimidation that may happen during the exercise.
“We appeal to Secretary (Galvez) and Comelec na sana hindi mangyari ang mga ganitong pangyayari tuwing election sa mga lugar namin,” he said. (with reports from opapp)