BBL lacks numbers, admits solon
THE FATE of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) hinges on whether lawmakers would bother to show up during the remaining three weeks of sessions before the break for the May elections.
Leaders of the House of Representatives told President Aquino last week that quorum troubles might continue to hinder the progress of the controversial bill in Congress, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said Sunday.
Mr. Aquino has volunteered to make a personal appeal to the 288 House members to attend sessions, Gonzales told dzBB radio.
“The truth is we do not have the numbers. Although we know there’s wide support for it, wide support should be expressed by being present. You might say, ‘hey, I’m in favor of this,’ but we don’t see you [on the floor],” Gonzales said.
The BBL would seal the peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014. It is hoped to end decades of armed conflict in Mindanao through the creation of a new self-governing region for the Bangsamoro people.
Congress resumes sessions on Jan. 19 and has only three weeks to work on the BBL, which is to enter the period of amendments. Once amendments are approved, the bill will be put to a vote on second, and then third reading.
The Senate will then have to pass its own version, and then the two chambers will meet in a bicameral conference committee to reconcile differences in the two bills. The bicameral version will go back to each chamber for ratification, and then be transmitted to President Aquino for signing into law.
The timetable for the BBL has suffered from a series of long delays as a result of attendance problems in the House and partly because of lingering anger from the Jan. 25, 2015, Mamasapano massacre of 44 Special Action Force commandos at the hands of Moro rebels.
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