While the period of interpellation on the BBL was completed last Wednesday and the period of amendments set to start next week, the sheer number of proposed changes from two senators alone could very well change the shape of the bill if these are adopted.
While the period of interpellation on the BBL was completed last Wednesday and the period of amendments set to start next week, the sheer number of proposed changes from two senators alone could very well change the shape of the bill if these are adopted.
Jeremy Pintolo/File
BBL to get major facelift
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - May 27, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate’s final version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) could be very different from what was proposed by Malacañang and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

While the period of interpellation on the BBL was completed last Wednesday and the period of amendments set to start next week, the sheer number of proposed changes from two senators alone could very well change the shape of the bill if these are adopted.

Interviewed over dwIZ yesterday, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he has around 150 amendments to the BBL, which he has prepared for the continuation of the plenary debates on the bill tomorrow.

Recto said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has more or less the same concerns as he has and these could very well be brought out next week as amendments to the BBL.

According to Recto, among his concerns about the BBL is its name, which he said connotes the establishment of a separate state.

He explained that he has no issue with devolving the powers from the national government to the proposed Bangsamoro state, but if this results in the reduction of powers of the national government, then this would be a problem for him.

Recto noted that shared and exclusive powers, neither of which are found under the Constitution, are also something that must be addressed in the BBL.

“I am in favor of the peace process but let us do this properly,” he added.

Recto also has an issue with the government providing an annual allocation of P150 million to the Bangsamoro state but expects nothing in return from them for national development.

“I am in favor of passing the BBL but let us make it more responsible,” the senator added.

Recto is confident his proposed amendments would be adopted based on his discussion with the bill’s sponsor, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

He said that the points he and Drilon raised were all meant to ensure the final version of the BBL would pass the test of constitutionality so that it would not suffer the same fate as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain of the Arroyo administration, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III has urged his colleagues to be more liberal in their treatment of the BBL, considering that it is also a product of a political process.

The BBL is seen as the final piece of the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that the administration is banking on to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

Pimentel said he understands why members of the Senate are very conscious of the constitutionality issues of the BBL, the very reason the bill is being scrutinized carefully.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he expects the BBL to be approved on second reading on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

If Malacañang is able to transmit President Duterte’s certification of the BBL as an urgent bill by Wednesday, the bill could be approved immediately on third and final reading.

BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW
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