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Congress adjourns sans BBL passage

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives adjourned session last night without passing the controversial proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The Senate ended its session on Wednesday, two days ahead of the House, without voting on the bill that seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new Bangsamoro regional government.

Leaders of the two chambers are aiming to tackle the proposed law when they resume session on Nov. 3 after a three-week break. They have promised to try to have it approved by Dec. 16, their last session day before the Christmas recess.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the House ad hoc committee on the draft BBL, said yesterday that there is still time for the two chambers to pass the proposed law.

“We have to pass it for the sake of peace,” he said.

He conceded though that the Nov. 3 -Dec.16 resumption of session is just a “narrow window” for the bill’s approval.

The proposed BBL is still in the period of plenary debates in the House. At least 10 more members have signified their intention to grill Rodriguez on the measure.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, who has exhaustively studied the BBL draft, said he doubted whether the new “moving timeline” for the passage of the bill would be met.

“The first deadline was in June, before the adjournment of the second regular session. The second is before we go on our first recess on Oct. 10, but that is no longer possible because we will tackle the 2016 budget starting on Monday. So Dec. 16 before the Christmas break is the new deadline,” he said.

Lobregat pointed out that if the proposed BBL were not approved before the Christmas break, most likely it would be the next Congress that would have the burden of passing it.

He said based on his assessment, “realistically, the first election in the autonomous Bangsamoro region under the proposed BBL could happen in 2019.”

Government peace negotiators and ARMM officials led by Gov. Mujiv Hataman have made last-minute appeals to senators and congressmen to pass the draft BBL.

ACIRC AUTONOMOUS REGION BANGSAMORO BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BBL CELSO LOBREGAT HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MUJIV HATAMAN MUSLIM MINDANAO ORO CITY REP RUFUS RODRIGUEZ
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