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Noy thanks House allies for support

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino joined his congressional allies’ Christmas party Wednesday night and thanked them for their continued support for his administration and his legislative agenda.

“He expressed his gratitude to members of the House for all the support and cooperation they have given him,” Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said yesterday.

“That was the only serious part. Other than that, it was mostly light banter and joke time,” he said.

Gonzales said Aquino engaged allies in small talk for more than two hours, arriving at the House of Representatives at the Batasan complex in Quezon City at about 7:30 p.m. and leaving before 10.

He added that in the course of going around, the President sat down at one table with leaders of the Liberal Party-led majority coalition in the chamber led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

“He enjoyed our jokes. There was loud laughter when I told him in jest that we may not be able to meet our new deadline for approving the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) because the chairman of the special committee, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (of Cagayan de Oro City), usually has long answers to his colleagues’ questions,” he recounted.

Rodriguez was seated with House leaders as president of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines.

He chairs the 75-member ad hoc committee that has been subjecting the draft BBL to public hearings and consultations since three months ago. It has held more than 30 such hearings, going around Mindanao and consulting stakeholders even in non-Muslim areas like Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas and Baguio City and Laoag City in Luzon.

It will continue holding consultations until next month before sitting down to draft its report.

The House originally planned to begin plenary debates on the proposed law creating a Bangsamoro region in Mindanao this month. Its new timeline for approval is March next year.

Other than the draft BBL, the House delivered on its promise to approve all important Malacañang-backed measures, including the two budget bills and the joint resolution granting Aquino emergency powers to deal with a projected small shortfall in electricity supply in Luzon during next year’s summer.

The two budget bills are the P2.606-trillion 2015 national budget and the P22.5-billion supplementing funding for this year.

AQUINO

BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW

CEBU AND ILOILO

CENTRIST DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

LIBERAL PARTY

LUZON

MAJORITY LEADER NEPTALI GONZALES

MINDANAO

ORO CITY

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