MANILA — The House leadership on Tuesday appealed to lawmakers to ensure politics-free deliberations of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that President Benigno Aquino III will submit to Congress tomorrow (Sept. 10).
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. urged his colleagues in Congress to leave politics behind when they start debating the bill, saying any political bickering should be set aside to achieve lasting and genuine peace in Mindanao.
“It should not be partisan to ensure healthy discussions aimed at ending the rebellion of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” said Belmonte saying that Mindanao had suffered a lot of hostilities.
However, the Speaker earlier admitted that Congress may not be able to immediately pass the bill so that plebiscite can be held by December.
“The submission of the proposed BBL is a welcome development, but still we cannot guarantee plebiscite by end of the year,” he said saying that most of their time will be eaten by budget deliberation and expected to finish before they go on recess before end of September.
Basilan Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman, who chairs the House special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity, and House Deputy Majority Leader and Cibac party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna vowed to work for the immediate passage of the measure.
“The leadership of the House is just waiting for the submission. Well, definitely that (submission) will help us a lot because we can start with our work,” Hataman-Salliman noted.
“Earlier submission to Congress will definitely help in speeding up the process. However, the bill will surely have its share of scrutiny in the House of Representatives because it’s a highly contentious bill,” he pointed out.
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe said Congress should work double time to ensure that plebiscite can be scheduled immediately.
“I am hoping that we will be able to immediately pass the BBL so that it will be immediately submitted for plebiscite. Otherwise, any further delay might be costly to the peace process,” Batocabe pointed out.
On Monday, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution creating an ad hoc committee with 75 members to review, evaluate and propose legislation relative to the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The ad hoc committee under HR 1462 filed by Belmonte and House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II has six months to finish the work from its establishment.
Belmonte said he would immediately elect the officials and members of the ad hoc committee tasked to deliberate the proposed BBL to be led by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez after President Aquino submits the draft’s final version.
Rodriguez, a lawyer and a former commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration during the term of then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, will lead the ad hoc committee.
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission is in-charge to submit the draft bill to Congress aimed at creating the new Bangsamoro juridical entity replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
This was the result of another peace talks being pushed by the government with the MILF.
The BBL measure was an offshoot of the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) by the Government Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF last March 27.