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Gonzales: President appeals for House to rise beyond the call of duty on BBL

Aquino sways some solons from grilling BBL–majority leader

/ 03:30 PM December 09, 2015

The House of Representatives majority leader on Wednesday said the pep talk with President Benigno Aquino III convinced some solons to back out from interpellating the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Mandaluyong city Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said Aquino somehow was able to convince five of some 21 solons to back out in grilling the sponsor of the bill.

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“The President yesterday appealed personally to the members. It’s up to the members of the House how to respond to the personal appeal of the President. Syempre president yan eh (Of course, that’s the president),” Gonzales said.

The BBL has been stuck at the plenary with dozens of representatives lining up to debate with the sponsor of the bill.

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The interpellation of the bill could not move forward because of quorum woes which have hounded the chamber as the 2016 campaign period draws near. The plenary debates have dragged on since the bill was sponsored on the floor in June.

READ: Quorum lack on BBL bill bothers Belmonte

Gonzales said some 11 solons, most of them from Mindanao, could not be swayed from interpellating the BBL.

“Ang problema, marami dun, hindi mapapakiusapan (The problem is, many of them cannot be pleaded with), because it’s an issue very close to their hearts, not because of their personal stand on the matter, but because of their geographical location,” Gonzales said of the Mindanao solons.

Gonzales said the President only wanted members of the House to take up the vote instead of failing to fulfill their duties as legislators.

“The President’s appeal is for the House to individually and collectively rise beyond the call of duty…Ang sabi niya lang, kung gusto matapos yan, pagbotohan niyo (What he said was, if you wanted to, you could finish that, vote on it), instead of shying away from the responsibility,” Gonzales said.

The House on Tuesday night still failed to get a quorum even after Aquino’s pep talk, a last-ditch attempt to convince House members to support the bill.

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The plenary adjourned 5:45 p.m. Tuesday with only 134 of the 187-strong chamber responding to the call. The chamber needed 145 members to reach a quorum.

This even after some 150 House members had a closed-door three-hour meeting with the President at Malacanang on Tuesday. The President urged solons to seize the opportunity in passing the bill to respond to the threat of global terrorism.

READ: Still no House quorum despite Palace pep talk 

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has said that the House plans to finish the plenary debates before Congress goes on Christmas break on Dec. 19, and finally pass it when it resumes Jan. 19, 2016.

READ: Proposed BBL reaches House plenary for sponsorship 

The BBL seeks to form a more politically autonomous Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the government implementation of the peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. CDG

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TAGS: ARMM, Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Benigno Aquino III, debate, House of Representatives, interpellation, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Neptali Gonzales II
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