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Deleting of ‘opt-in’ provision key to BBL passage by September

/ 06:42 PM July 19, 2015

A LEADER from the House of Representatives expressed his hope that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed on third and final reading by the third week of September once the “opt-in” provision in the proposed measure would be removed.

Opt-in provision allows contiguous areas to join the Bangsamoro territory through a plebiscite.

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House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II said on Sunday that removing the opt-in provision would lessen the number of lawmakers who want to interpellate the measure on the plenary.

“Nagkaroon kasi ng agreement noon like tatanggalin yong opt-in provision, marami kaagad ang nag-withdraw sa interpellation. I’m pretty confident na ma-sustain lang namin yan, yong commitment na tatanggalin yong opt-in provision and so many other things na napagkasunduan na, siguro naman baka ma-approve namin ito on third reading bago umabot ang budget sa plenary ng last week of September,” Gonzales said in an interview aired over radio dzBB.

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(When we proposed to remove the opt-in provision, many lawmakers withdrew their interpellation. I’m pretty confident that if we sustain the commitment of removing the opt-in provision, I think the bill will be approved on third reading before the budget bill reaches the plenary on the last week of September.)

There are still about 15 lawmakers who want to interpellate the measure on the plenary, including the bill’s staunchest critic, Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat whom Gonzales described as “equivalent to 10 congressmen.”

Gonzales said that interpellations on the BBL will continue while the budget bill is being tackled by the House Committee on Appropriations.

The lower house will not entertain discussion on other bills once the budget bill reaches the plenary.

The opt-in provision, under the Article 3, Section 3 of the proposed measure, states that “any local government unit (LGU) or geographical area outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro, but which are contiguous to any of the component units of the Bangsamoro and within the area of autonomy identified in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, may opt to be part of the Bangsamoro by filing a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters of the interested LGU or geographical area.”

The 16th Congress will resume its final regular session on July 27, with President Benigno Aquino III delivering his sixth and final State of the Nation Address.

The BBL, one of the administration’s priority bills, was the result of the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front last year.

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TAGS: BBL, Congress, Neptali Gonzales, opt-in provision, Politics
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