BY ASANGAN T. MADALE
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (COMELEC) will establish a Legal Assistance Desk (LAD) in all provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to assist the Electoral Board and all persons authorized to serve in rendering service for the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Katabataan Elections on October 30, Comelec Officials said.
MBHTE Mohagher Iqbal said this was the COMELEC’s primary duty as stated in the Memorandum of Agreement between the commission and the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) which was signed in Davao City on October 19.
The LAD shall be manned by COMELEC personnel, and Support Staff from the MBHTE, under the supervision and control of the COMELEC. This is in case a report or complaint is lodged against them by reason of or on the occasion of the performance of their functions or duties during elections.
On the other hand, the MBHTE shall monitor the Electoral Boards, Supervisor Officials, and the respective support staff in the performance of their election duties.
MBHTE Minister Mohagher Iqbal emphasized that the partnership is to address a matter of utmost importance – the participation of dedicated Bangsamoro public school teachers in the upcoming BSKE.
The collaboration, according to him, signifies a significant stride towards pursuing honest, credible, and just elections in BARMM, especially since this region is a proponent of Moral Governance.
“As we approach the Barangay-level elections, we must not forget the vital role that our teachers play in ensuring the conduct of fair and transparent polls. Their integrity and dedication are essential in upholding the sanctity of the electoral process, which is the cornerstone of a democratic country,” said Iqbal.
He further affirmed the Ministry’s commitment to support and protect the teachers who willingly step up to serve during the election period.
“This MoA provides a framework that ensures that the rights and welfare of our teachers are upheld. With this partnership, we protect the teachers as they protect our votes – and as they protect our votes, we surely protect the future of children by ensuring that only those elected by the people will run the elective posts,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim commended the steadfast leadership of COMELEC Chairman Atty. George Erwin Garcia for the openness to partner with the MBHTE.
“I am optimistic that this MoA will address gaps, issues, and concerns that beleaguer the application of the Election Service Reform Act in the BARMM,” said Ebrahim.
Extending the Bangsamoro Government’s appreciation to those who will be serving the upcoming elections, Ebrahim said, “We thank you for your invaluable service to ensure a safe and credible 2023 BSKE. May the Almighty Allah bless you with guidance and protection as you perform your crucial tasks in the coming days.”