QUEZON CITY (MindaNews/11 May) – The Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (AHCBBL) on Monday night announced the resetting of its voting on the proposed law to May 18, 19 and 20, some three hours after Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Committee chair, asked before adjourning the meeting at around 4:45 p.m.: “Are we ready for tomorrow’s voting? Yes we are.”
Voting would be “section by section” and there would be no explanation of the vote as that would be done during the plenary, Rodriguez said.
But after a meeting with House leaders, Tuesday’s voting was cancelled and the new schedule is on May 18, 19 and 20.
May 18 was supposed to be the start of the plenary debate.
“We have to consolidate all the proposed amendments including the numerous amendments proposed this afternoon and those to be submitted tomorrow (Tuesday), “ Rodriguez told MindaNews.
The Committee meeting for Tuesday has been called off “but we will receive proposed amendments,” he said.
The 75-member committee was scheduled to vote on the BBL on May 11, 12 and, “if necessary,” Rodriguez said, “on May 13.”
But no voting took place on Monday afternoon, as more amendments were introduced, including a list of proposed amendments read by Davao del Norte Rep. Anthony del Rosario which he said was based on a meeting of around 20 colleagues.
What del Rosario read was referred to by some Committee members as the “LP version.” Some of the proposed amendments carried the recommendations of the Peace Council that the President tasked to look into the BBL.
Quezon City 6th District Rep. Christopeher “Kit” Belmonte, son of Speaker Feliciano del Monte, manifested he was submitting proposed amendments in writing.
Rodriguez said the proposed amendments introduced by lawmakers on Monday and the younger Belmonte’s written proposed amendments would be complied as an “addendum” to the Committee version of the BBL earlier distributed to the Committee members, a product of several hearing
He said there would be no discussion anymore on amendments so they can proceed to voting the next day, Tuesday.
Rodrigugez addressed the members: “if you’re agreeable vote yes, if not, vote no,” adding the chair has already “bended rules” because “we do not want to shut out anybody who has not been able to present amendments to the BBL.”
Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, who was “ready to vote because I’ve read it, I’ve studiit,” told MindaNews after the meeting that “there should still be a discussion.”
“We were all made to stay for the additional amendments and to discuss it, then all of a sudden may proposal si Congressman Kit Belmonte na isu-submit daw niya in writing and then we will not discuss it anymore? Bakit ganon?” he asked.
Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela wonders why amendments were still allowed when they were supposed to vote already. “It seems there are a lot of amendments/ proposals which are obviously to soften the stand of the vocal anti BBL,” she told MindaNews.
“Why were these amendments not brought up during the days we tackled the bill lne by line? And surprise proponent and proposal suddenly come out of the woodwork. The new amendments have a common thread – they dilute and weaken the original BBL , the ‘autonomy’ so ardently sought for is being taken away. And to think we scrapped the ARMM law,” Ilagan said.
March for Peace
On Monday morning, thousands of supporters of the Bangsamoro peace process, including Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the regional government that would be replaced by the future Bangsamoro, marched from the St. Peter’s Church along Commonwealth Avenue to the House of Representative , to urge Congress to pass a BBL that would be consistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the government and MILF signed after 17 years of negotiations.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles showed up at the rally in front of the main gate of the House of Representatives, with government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and panel member Senen Bacani. MILF peace panel chair Mohahger Iqbal was not around.
In his speech, ARMM Governor Hataman, a former member of Congress as Anak Mindanao (Amin) party-list representative, appealed to lawmakers to please vote for a “BBL na gusto ng mamamayang Moro.”
He said many are asking why he is campaigning for a law that would end his stay in office before his three-year term ends on June 30, 2016 (the ARMM is deemed abolished once the Bangsamoro Transition Authority is installed). Hataman said this is not about his personal interest but “interes ng ating bansa, interes ng mas nakakaraming Moro” (the interest of the nation, the interest of the Moro people).
“Ang ating kinabukasan po ang nakasalalay sa BBL” (Our collective future depends on the BBL), he added.
Sister Arnold Maria Noel of Balay Rehabilitation Center and Mindanao Solidarity Network described the “march for peace” as a “big mobilization,” and “many of those who participated were not only Muslims, many were really non-Muslims.”
“ That shows that BBL is supported not only by Muslim communities but also non-Muslims,” she said.
Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, OMI, Archbishop of Cotabato and lead convenor of Friends of Peace (FoP) told a press conference at the Fuentebella Hall while the Committee was in executive session, said he hopes the Committee members would pass “a BBL that would bring lasting peace.”
“We pray legislators would act as, I would say, the crowning peacemakers they would crown the peace negotiations by acting, continuing as peacemakers.”
Former Senator Santanina Rasul, the first Moro woman elected senator, asked durng the press conference: “if we are to be united as a strong Philippine Republic, why can’t we support the peace agreements which guarantee an end to armed conflict, which lays the foundation for a strong autonomous region and ends the struggle for independence?”
“I say to our legislators, pass the BBL now. Pass a BBL which remains true to the peace agreements, that promised genuine autonomy in lieu of independence,” she said, adding “give peace a chance. Let us be a united Filipino people, of diverse cultures and ethnicities, religions and creed.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)