Approval of BBL remains a challenge – Speaker
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - October 22, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The approval of the controversial proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) remains a challenge for the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday.

“This BBL is quite challenging for us,” he said.

He said he and other leaders of the chamber would try to finish floor debates on the measure and put it to a vote before the Christmas recess of Congress, which starts on Dec. 19.

He said he would like the four or five remaining members who have questions about the proposed law “to elicit new facts and not repeat what the others have been asking for the last half-year.”

That would shorten plenary debates, after which the House goes into the period of amending the draft BBL, he added.

After the amendments, the chamber puts the measure to a vote.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the ad hoc committee on the BBL and is principal sponsor of the measure, said there is still time for the House to approve the proposed law.

“We will reconvene on Nov. 3. We have six weeks up to Dec. 16 or 19 to do it. We have to pass the draft BBL for the sake of peace,” he said.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat is not as optimistic. He is one of several members who still have a lot of questions for Rodriguez and his co-sponsors of the measure.

He expressed doubts on whether the House could meet its new deadline of voting on the draft BBL before the Christmas recess of Congress.

“This is a moving timeline. The first deadline was in June, before the adjournment of the second regular session. The second is before our first recess on Oct. 10. So Dec. 16 before the Christmas break is the new deadline,” he said.

He said a lot of debates could still happen even during the period for amendments.

He said lack of quorum could derail approval of the proposed BBL before the Christmas recess.

Lobregat pointed out that House leaders themselves expect fewer members to attend sessions because those who have filed their certificates of candidacy for higher or lower office and those seeking reelection would be on “campaign mode.”

He pointed out that Congress would not be able to tackle the measure when it reconvenes in mid-January next year after the Christmas recess due to the approaching campaign period, which starts in February.

ACIRC BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BBL CELSO LOBREGAT HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES LOBREGAT ORO CITY REP RUFUS RODRIGUEZ SO DEC SPEAKER FELICIANO BELMONTE JR. ZAMBOANGA CITY REP
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