Speaker on BBL: Plan B not needed
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives will do its best to have the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) passed when Congress resumes session on Jan. 19, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday.

Belmonte issued the statement after the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), an independent international body that tracks the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), urged the government to prepare a fallback position in case Congress fails to pass the BBL.

“We have no Plan B, we’re determined to pass the BBL,” Belmonte said, adding House leaders are doing the rounds to ensure quorum and support for the BBL, which seeks to create a new autonomous region in Mindanao.

The CAB – the peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014 – was the basis of the draft BBL submitted to Congress the following September.

After nearly nine months of deliberations by the 75-member ad hoc committee on the BBL chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the draft was submitted to the plenary.

The House terminated the period of floor debates on the BBL before Congress adjourned for the Christmas break last Dec. 17 and the chamber’s leadership was trying to set a date for voting on the measure on second reading.

Belmonte earlier said the BBL should be more acceptable to House members as the Rodriguez panel has already excised at least 40 unconstitutional provisions.

 Still hopeful

Government peace panel chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said they remain hopeful Congress would be able to pass the BBL within the remaining six months of the Aquino administration.

“There is still hope and we are not giving up,” Ferrer said. She acknowledged the negotiations had been tough and that she and other members of the peace panel had to deal with lawsuits, including treason.

“For the first time in my life, I faced lawsuits, along with scores of others involved in the negotiations,” Ferrer said.

She said she was thankful the Manila Prosecutor’s Office junked the “flimsy” case of treason filed against her and members of the MILF panel.

No pressure

But Congress cannot be pressured on what to do with the BBL, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said yesterday.

“We will do our job based on what is the right thing to do with the BBL and what is prescribed by the Constitution. We will also be guided by what we think is best for our people in Mindanao,” he said.

He said the Third Party Monitoring Team cannot dictate on what Congress should do.

Albano was reacting to the call of the monitoring group for the government and the MILF to come up with a Plan B in case Congress does not pass the BBL.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rodriguez, the bill’s principal sponsor, said there is still time to approve the BBL. – Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez, Rodel Clapano, Perseus Echeminada

 

 

ACIRC BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BBL BELMONTE BUT CONGRESS CHRISTINA MENDEZ COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT CONGRESS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PLAN B THIRD PARTY MONITORING TEAM
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