Palace downplays 12 senators’ stance
Malacañang on Thursday downplayed the contention by 12 senators that its draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was unconstitutional.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the senators were just doing their job by scrutinizing the BBL to ensure that it conformed to the Constitution.
“There’s nothing to worry about that aspect because they are just fulfilling their duty,” he told reporters.
Malacañang’s goal for Congress to pass the BBL before President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on July 27 is facing a major roadblock following the report of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s committee on constitutional amendments.
At least 12 senators have signed the report which called for “substantial” revisions in the proposed law to address provisions deemed unconstitutional.
“By affixing their signatures in the committee report, senators are agreeing with the conclusion that the present BBL draft is essentially unconstitutional,” Santiago said in a statement on Wednesday. She said she expected more colleagues to adopt the same view on the Senate floor.
It remains to be seen whether Aquino—his pet bill in danger of being overhauled at least in the Senate—would also sit down with senators like he had done with members of the House of Representatives.
Aquino got his wish on the draft BBL which was approved by a House ad hoc committee headed by Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
The swift approval, described by critics as railroading, came after the President went through details of the BBL during a lengthy meeting with committee members in Malacañang. The Palace denied offering inducements like pork barrel to the congressmen in exchange for the approval.
A Malacañang spokesperson earlier expressed optimism that senators opposed to the BBL would change their minds once they had met with Aquino.
Malacañang itself contributed to the delay in passing the BBL, the draft of which its own lawyers had scrutinized for months. The Palace draft was submitted to Congress only in September last year.
But even Rodriguez, a former law school dean, later saw questionable portions in the draft, such as the opt-in provision he had described as one that would lead to “creeping expansion.” This same provision was later approved by his committee.
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