Palace warned: Don’t pressure House into passing BBL

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang was warned yesterday against pressuring the House of Representatives into passing the Bangsamoro Bill.

The pressure continues to be evident with the setting of a new Dec. 16 deadline to pass the bill, according to Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent bloc.

“Lawmakers need more time to study the BBL because we want to guarantee that what we would be passing will be legal and constitutional,” he said.

However, the new deadline drawn up by House leaders could just be a “graceful exit” as well as an admission that the bill is dead in Congress, Romualdez said.

The Bangsamoro bill must not be passed without allowing lawmakers to further review, study and scrutinize it to ensure compliance with the Constitution, he added.

The Senate and the House expect to pass the Bangsamoro Bill on Dec. 16 and have it signed into law before yearend, according to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro bill chairman.

However, the new deadline is unrealistic and meant to show that the administration is totally committed to the Bangsamoro Bill, a senior pro-administration lawmaker said.

“In reality, we’re just kidding ourselves,” the lawmaker said. “The BBL died a long time ago, and there is even less time in December to pass it.”

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat agrees that there is insufficient time to pass the Bangsamoro Bill.

“In the House, we are still in the period of interpellation,” he said. “We still have period of amendments, before we put it to a second reading vote, then third reading. It’s a long way to go.

“Even if we pass it in the House, we still have to reconcile it with that of the Senate. We won’t have enough time for the plebiscite. We can pursue it instead in the next Congress and have it in place by 2019.” 

Congress urged to pass bill

The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) has urged the leaders of Congress to pass a Bangsamoro bill conforming with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Constitution, the Peace Process Media Bureau said yesterday.

In a resolution last Sept. 20, the NAPC   “urge(d) and appeal(ed) to all   members of Congress to sustain the House quorum and to critically debate on the current version of the substitute bills guaranteeing parity of esteem with genuine autonomy, natural resource management, opt in and territorial integrity, inclusive representation and participation and cultural sensitivity,” it said.

The NAPC also urged Congress to consider the negative effect of the armed conflict in Mindanao on the entire country, the Peace Process Media Bureau said.

“[The] long standing armed conflicts and violence in the territories of the Bangsamoro had also affected the entire island of Mindanao and the whole country,” it quoted the NAPC  resolution.

“Its devastation was strongly felt during the all-out war declared by the government, killing many innocent civilians and combatants, massive evacuation of internally displaced families, high budget allocation to compensate the expensive cost of war and massive destruction of properties, assets and environment.” 

The armed conflict further aggravated the under-development, inequity, inequality, lack of access to social services, inefficient governance and the level of poverty in many areas of the Bangsamoro and Mindanao, the NAPC was quoted as saying.

The BBL would institutionalize all the signed peace agreements after 17 years of peace negotiations, the Peace Process Media Bureau said.

Coinciding with the anniversary of the declaration of martial law and the 33rd International Day of Peace, the All-Out Peace (AOP) movement convened peace organizations to commemorate the martyrs of martial law and swore to protect the gains of their struggle against dictatorship.

“Our struggle against martial law and the triumphs we achieved will all be for naught if the conflict in the Bangsamoro homeland continues to fester,” the AOP Movement said in a statement.

“It is thus propitious that we commemorate this dastardly declaration by expanding further the freedoms we regained when we ousted the dictator by declaring ‘Never Again’ and by honoring the valiant struggle of the Bangsamoro for their own self-determination.” – Paolo Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano


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