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Palace OK with Congress’ December deadline for BBL

/ 07:45 PM September 24, 2015

THE new deadline set by Congress for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is still workable, according to Malacañang on Thursday.

“Kung ito ay maisasabatas kahit na sabihin nating Disyembre na nga, ay meron pa rin namang sapat na panahon para makapag-appoint ang Pangulo ng mga kasapi ng Bangsamoro [Transition] Authority at mayroon pa ring sapat na panahon para magdaos ng isang plebisito,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a Palace briefing.

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(If it will be approved into law in, let’s say, December, we still have enough time for the President to appoint the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and there will also be enough time for a plebiscite.)

Coloma was reacting to reports quoting Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the BBL ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives, that the proposed bill may be ratified by Congress on December 16. He said President Benigno Aquino III can sign the bill into law before 2016 ends.

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But the Secretary also said that Malacañang prefers an earlier passage to give ample time for the new region’s transition.

The BBL is a product of a peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It has been stalled in Congress after the controversial Mamasapano operation, which left 44 Special Action Force troopers dead.

It aims to create a new autonomous region called the Bangsamoro political entity. While it will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), nearby provinces can also opt-in through a plebiscite, which will determine the scope of the new entity.

Coloma said the enacting of laws is a democratic process and that Malacañang welcomes the initiative of lawmakers wanting to engage in the BBL debate.

“Iginagalang natin ‘yung kanilang karapatan dahil sila ay mga halal na kinatawan ng ating mga mamamayan,” he said.

(We respect their right to participate in the discussions because they are elected representatives of our people.)

Coloma also acknowledged the need to pass the General Appropriations Act for the next fiscal year.

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“Kinikilala natin ‘yung mga kongkretong sitwasyon at reyalidad na ‘yan at naririyan pa rin naman ‘yung pagtitiyak ng mga lider ng Kongreso na bukod doon sa General Appropriations Act ay itinuturing nila at binibigyan nila ng mataas na prayoridad ‘yung pagpapasa ng Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he said.

(We recognize the concrete situation and that reality but the leaders of Congress are also ensuring that besides the General Appropriations Act, they will also prioritize the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.)

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