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Lawmakers met in bloc during BBL draft voting, says LP solon

/ 03:19 PM May 22, 2015

A Liberal Party (LP) solon on Friday said lawmakers met in bloc while the House ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) deliberated and voted on the measure that would create a new Bangsamoro entity replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In an interview with Radyo Inquirer, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone said he and other congressmen belonging to the Visayas bloc met with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal coinciding with the House voting.

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“We, the Visayas bloc, wanted to have guidance because most of us are not members of the ad hoc committee,” he said in Filipino. “That meeting was set prior to the voting… but it was not held prior to the voting—actually while we were meeting, the ad hoc committee was also voting.”

Evardone clarified that the purpose of their meeting was not to be persuaded but to be enlightened, adding that there is only one member of their bloc belonging to the ad hoc committee.

“We have decided that in order to come up with a sound decision, we should talk to those who are directly involved in the drafting of the BBL,” he added.

Evardone also said his group had a lot of questions pertaining to the BBL, which he said they could not raise supposedly because of their non-membership to the ad hoc.

“The discussions in the Visayas bloc are intense. There are a lot of issues being talked about,” he said.

Asked about LP’s influence on the lawmaker’s individual stand on the BBL, Evardone said objections and suggestions for amendments are being considered despite a collective party stand.

“From what I know, there has been a party stand. But on the other hand, there was a decision to gather all the proposed revisions of each member to accommodate everyone,” he said.

Evardone said the Visayas bloc is yet to come up with a final stand on the BBL once discussions within the group are settled.

“I think no one is really against the advocacy to achieve peace in Mindanao. There are just parts [of the BBL] that should be thoroughly discussed,” he added.

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On Wednesday, the House committee on the BBL approved the substitute bill and the committee report in a vote of 50 votes in favor, 17 against, and one abstention.

After the approval, the BBL will be scrutinized by the House appropriations and ways and means committees. Congress is eyeing to pass the measure before its last session day on June 11. AU

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law, BBL, Ben Evardone, House of Representatives, Liberal Party, Visayas bloc
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