Alvarez renews call for federalism, BBL
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday opened the second regular session of the 17th Congress with a renewed call for lawmakers to pass the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) and create a federal form of government.
In his speech at the opening of the second regular session, Alvarez called on his colleagues to support the proposed Bangsamoro basic law that would create a Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao.
“We have to concentrate our efforts in passing two legislative measures that hold the key to lasting peace and prosperity for our country. First, the Bangsamoro Basic Law draft has been submitted to the President and will soon be on its way into our chambers. This will be the basis for creating a homeland for our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters,” Alvarez said.
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission has turned over the new draft of the BBL to the President, who would in turn endorse the bill to the Senate and the lower house.
Alvarez also urged Congress to constitute itself as a constituent assembly to revise the 1987 Constitution to pave the way for a federal form of government, from the existing unitary.
“We have to exert additional effort in paving the way for the shift from a unitary to a federal form of government. This will address the structural defects that have hampered our national strategy in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and progress,” Alvarez said.
In a press conference after the session, Alvarez said the lower house should strive to pass the BBL before the Christmas break.
“Kung pwedeng mai-pasa natin yan (If we can pass that) within the year, I’d be very happy,” Alvarez said.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to certify the BBL as urgent to speed up its passage.
“Ang pagkakaalam ko, baka i-certify ng presidente ‘yan as an urgent bill. Talagang mabibigyan ng priority ‘yan (As far as I know, the President might certify that as an urgent bills. That will be prioritized),” Alvarez said.
He added that the bill calling on Congress to turn itself into a constituent assembly may take more time, noting that the lower house eyes to be busy with revising the charter next year.
President Duterte, whose campaign promises included federalism, earlier said during the 2016 presidential campaign that the shift to federalism may be an alternative to the Bangsamoro basic law, which seeks to put up a more autonomous Bangsamoro region.
The passage of the BBL, a centerpiece legislation during the Aquino administration and a result of the peace talks between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), was derailed during the 16th Congress due to lack of quorum, in an apparent loss of confidence on the MILF, whose fighters were involved in the botched Mamasapano operation that killed 44 Special Action Force cops./rga
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