Still premature to certify Bangsamoro law as urgent – Palace

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino need not certify as urgent the Bangsamoro Bill, especially now that Congress is on recess, Malacañang said yesterday.

“As to the Bangsamoro Basic Law, it is premature for both Houses to ask the President for a certification of urgency since it is still in the period of interpellation in both Houses,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. quoted Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Secretary Manuel Mamba as saying.

It has been the practice that the General Appropriations Act takes precedence over all other priority measures and has always been approved before yearend in the past five years of the administration, Coloma told reporters.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the administration-backed BBL will only have to wait until after All Soul’s Day when Congress resumes session on Nov. 3.

“The BBL is difficult to pass before we adjourn on Oct. 10,” he said.

“So, it will have to wait when we come back in November. We hope to finish it by December.”

Congressional debates on the Bangsamoro Bill will only take a temporary backseat while Congress prioritizes deliberations on the proposed P3-trillion 2016 national budget.

Coloma said the executive department has always coordinated with the leadership of the House of Representatives, which will hold interpellations on the Bangsamoro Bill until Dec. 16.

“After they (lawmakers) have passed this (budget deliberations) they will continue interpellations on the bill,” he said in Filipino.

Deliberations on the national budget always prevails over other measures, Coloma said.

“This is the highest priority of Congress – the passage of the national budget,” he said in Filipino.

The absence of a budget might paralyze government operations, Coloma said.

Once the budget is approved, lawmakers who have questions on the Bangsamoro Bill would have more time and opportunity to raise their concerns in the plenary, Coloma said.

Congressional priority

Congress is being urged to give priority to the passage of the Bangsamoro Bill when session resumes next month.

Government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer sees no reason to delay the passage of the bill, although Congress has to tackle in November next year’s proposed national budget and lawmakers have to file their certificates of candidacy.

“We realize that two important matters have taken the front seat at this time: number one is the budget which is also a very important annual bill that has to be passed before the end of the year,” she said yesterday.

“Number two is the filing of candidacies. But we see no reason why come November, when Congress returns for its next session from Nov. 3 to Dec. 16, the BBL can’t be prioritized by our Congress.”

Ferrer hopes that lawmakers will see the importance of the Bangsamoro Bill to the government’s peace efforts.

“When November comes, this is really what we are expecting: that the BBL will be prioritized,” she said.

“It is important to have movement with regard the BBL. We hope that the basic law can be passed by the House of Representatives by early November in order for people, especially the Bangsamoro, not to lose hope in their government.” – Delon Porcalla, Jose Rodel Clapano,Jess Diaz

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