MANILA – Few attendees at the House of Representatives in the deliberation of House Bill 4994 or the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been impeding its passage, House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. admitted.
Only few lawmakers participated in the resume of debates on the draft BBL, which aimed to form a new Bangsamoro government which would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, for his part, disclosed that some representatives may be ‘purposely absenting’ as they were opposed to the passage of the bill.
Belmonte, however, still wanted to pass the measure by next month as the House needed to discuss the 2016 national budget afterwards.
“It’s bothersome, but I’m still confident of its passage… We have to do our best to talk to the [Congress] leaders,” he said in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
Meanwhile, BBL panel chairman Rufus Rodriguez, welcomed the House and the Senate’s actions on the proposed bill.
“There are a lot of balancing acts to be done to ensure that the [draft BBL] remains true both to the genuine aspirations of the Bangsamoro for self-determination and the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” Rodriguez said in the same report.
He also acknowledged the Senate’s new version of the proposed measure – the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR).
“The House and Senate versions of the BLBAR carry significant differences,” Rodriguez added. “Early reviews of the Senate version… weakened [the] Bangsamoro parliamentary system of government.”
Having differences in the two versions and with the Senate’s numerous omissions in the bill, the BBL panel chairman noted that these were expected.
“This only proves that we have a working and healthy democracy. As legislators with independent minds, different takes on the bill are to be expected,” he said.
“That is the beauty of our democratic system. You have independent minds working on the same thing [that] will eventually compare notes, as they say, and reach a consensus,” he added.
After the House and Senate deliberations, the joint Congress will then finalize the measure in a conference on its third reading.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), for its part, feared that a ‘diluted’ version of the BBL would be passed. To this, Rodriguez stayed optimistic that the Muslim group would accept the amended bill.