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Congress to resume BBL debates next week ‘

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Congressional leaders have agreed to resume debates on the controversial proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) next week after Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon led the monthly consultative meeting last Wednesday.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II told The STAR yesterday that they briefly tackled the BBL issue.

“We promised our Senate counterparts that we will resume plenary debates next week. That is, if we are able to muster a quorum,” he said.

Gonzales added that Drilon told them the Senate would also reopen floor discussions on BBL next week with opposition Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile expected to take at least one week of sessions to ask questions.

Enrile earlier said the proposed law creating a new autonomous Bangsamoro region in Mindanao is laden with constitutionally questionable provisions.

The House convened last Tuesday and Wednesday but failed to tackle the controversial measure for lack of quorum.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, principal sponsor of the House version of the BBL, said he would be present in the sessions to defend the draft, even if he was busy with his mayoral candidacy in his city.

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

He added that the House and the Senate still have time to approve it between next week and before Congress heads for its Christmas recess on Dec. 18.

Drilon said Congress only has 15 session days before the Christmas break.

Among the top priorities is the approval of the proposed P3.002-trillion 2016 national budget before the year ends so that a new spending program would be put in place by Jan. 1, 2016.

Drilon said they expect to receive the proposed budget from the House by next week and would discuss or debate on it until the first week of December.

“That would leave the two chambers only two weeks to agree on a final version and ratify it before going on a three-week Christmas break,” he said.

Belmonte has admitted that passing the proposed BBL remains a challenge for his chamber.

The law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) prevails in the absence of new legislation repealing it.

 

 

AUTONOMOUS REGION BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW DRILON HOUSE AND THE SENATE HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER NEPTALI GONZALES JUAN PONCE ENRILE MUSLIM MINDANAO ORO CITY REP RUFUS RODRIGUEZ TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY WEEK
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