Senate to amend half of BBL
Nearly half of the Malacañang-backed version of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may be changed in the Senate committee’s substitute version, according to Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Marcos, who chairs the local government committee that is leading deliberations on the bill, said he is in the process of drawing up the list of amendments he proposes to make to the original bill in order to come up with a substitute bill.
Close to 50 percent would be amended, the senator said.
These include the controversial opt-in provision, which would have allowed the expansion of the proposed Bangsamoro region; the sections dealing with contiguity; and those concerning power-sharing.
According to Marcos, he will also seek changes on the provisions that will affect the financial and business community, noting that the draft BBL would have an impact not just on the new region but on surrounding areas as well.
Powers of the parliament amendments can also be expected on the powers of the Bangsamoro parliament, on the region’s contribution to the national government, and on the ownership of natural resources.
Once he had completed his list of amendments, Marcos would present them in a draft substitute bill to the committee members. The members would have to deliberate on this before he could present it to the plenary, he told a Senate forum.
But even if the committee will only be able to tackle this issue when Congress sessions resume in July, Marcos said he would be providing the committee members with copies of his draft before that date.
Marcos noted that people seemed to have been confused by his statement that he would be submitting a substitute draft BBL bill.
He explained that a substitute bill simply refers to any bill that contains a proposal that was not in the original measure. It does not mean that he would be creating a new bill from scratch, he said.
Marcos said he expected extensive discussions on the substitute Bangsamoro bill once it reaches the floor.
“I think it will be a very thorough discussion. I don’t know if it will be tough,” he said.
Debates could center on the constitutionality of the provisions, although he said he would not be surprised if fiscal and monitory policy would also figure in the discussions.
Marcos also said that even a Senate reorganization would not affect the status of the draft BBL. Anybody who said that a reorganization in the Senate, which might entail changing the committee chairs, would secure the BBL’s approval did not understand the legislative process, he said.
A reorganization would not make the unconstitutional provisions in the bill constitutional, the senator pointed out.
Asked if Senate President Franklin Drilon had talked to him about a Senate reorganization, he said there had been no such discussion.
And he hoped there would be no such move.
“It will not really help anything. It will just cause confusion and it will waste the work done by the committee because we’d have to start again,” he said.
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