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Drilon to Noy: No more time to approve BBL

“I sent word to the President that this is going to be very difficult. This is a local bill that must originate from the House of Representatives. Now it appears that it won’t be approved in the House of Representatives because they are having difficulties with getting a quorum,” Drilon said over radio dwIZ. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines – With hardly any time left before the adjournment of Congress on Friday, it’s definitely a no go for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday reported having told President Aquino.

“I sent word to the President that this is going to be very difficult. This is a local bill that must originate from the House of Representatives. Now it appears that it won’t be approved in the House of Representatives because they are having difficulties with getting a quorum,” Drilon said over radio dwIZ.

If there was any hope in Malacañang that the BBL could still be approved between now and June 30, Drilon said his counterpart Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. had all but extinguished it with his own pronouncements that the BBL is dead in the 16th Congress. Session resumes on May 23.

At Malacañang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. has called on stakeholders to “keep the wheels of the peace process running” should the BBL fail to make it in Congress.

Drilon emphasized that the Senate, even if it wants to, cannot act on the BBL until it is approved by the House and transmitted to the upper chamber.

“The BBL cannot be transmitted to the Senate before we adjourn. So there is no more time,” he said.

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But he stressed the BBL would continue to be on the top of the agenda of the Senate in its last three session days next week. This has been the case in the past few months but it has not pushed legislators to deliberate on the matter during session.

For weeks, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile has been interpellating the sponsor of the BBL, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the plenary.

He is not even half way through his interpellation and there are still other senators who wish to say their piece about the bill.

Drilon said the reality is “the election campaign is already here” and so many of the candidates are already busy going around the country.

For instace, Marcos and Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano are now busy campaigning and may not be in the position to finish the debates on the BBL.

“The President strived to get this passed but under the circumstances, the stars did not align themselves, as they say,” Drilon said.

“This is why I have been saying that the BBL was the 45th victim of the Mamasapano (clash) because if our attention was not diverted by the Mamasapano hearings, then we probably would have finished this earlier,” he added.

Mamasapano to blame

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III also said it was the Mamasapano carnage that doomed the BBL and not the President, who “really pushed hard for its approval.”

“The process of considering and approving the proposed Bangsamoro law was smooth sailing until the Mamasapano incident,” he said, as he reminded critics that Congress was not to blame either.

He stressed that the incident “made the political environment not conducive for passing the BBL bill.”

Albano added he was for approving the measure “because I wanted to give the envisioned new autonomous Bangsamoro regional government a chance to work for the benefit and welfare of the people of Mindanao.”

The proposed law was the product of peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Investigations by the Philippine National Police fact-finding board and the Senate have blamed the MILF for the death of 44 elite police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25 last year. – Aurea Calica, Jess Diaz

 

 

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