House will pass BBL after SONA; Iqbal says “come what may”

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QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 08 June) — The House of Representatives will finish its interpellations on HB 5811, the substitute bill to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), on Wednesday before Congress adjourns sine die but the period of amendments and voting will be done only when it resumes sessions after President Aquino’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

“Come what may. Yan na ang sitwasyon” (that’s the situation now), Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said of the new deadline.

“If that is the situation,” he told Mindanews, then so be it. We can only press on but we don’t control the situation,” said Iqbal, also chair of the 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“I believe in struggle. Nothing big can come on a silver platter,” he said.

But while House leaders from the majority and minority had agreed on a new schedule for passing what the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (AHCBBL) now refers to as the “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Committee Chair Rufus Rodriguez, principal sponsor of the substitute bill, apparently was not informed.

08June2015_lobregat&rodriguez
FACE OFF. Zamboanga City Representative Celso Lobregat (L) questions Ad Hoc Committee chair and HB 8511 principal sponsor Rufus Rodriguez on Monday, June 8, 2015., the third day of Lobregat’s interpellation. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

“Kaya pa” (we still can),” he said, adding he can’t see them not finishing by June 11. “We don’t see that eventuality as of now. We’re still going to finish,” he told Mindanao-based reporters shortly before 9 p.m. Monday, during a break in the session.

Two of his vice chairs in the Committee, had earlier told MindaNews it was not possible anymore while Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur said, “hindi kaya” (we can’t).

Rodriguez was a no-show on Thursday and arrived at 7 p.m. Monday said after attending a bicameral meeting at the Senate on the Anti Trust bill.

Rodriguez said a total of 38 (previous number was 33) representatives had signed up to interpellate, but most of the 38 are from the majority.

Only 5 of 38

Only five representatives have completed their interpellations: Minority leader Ronnie Zamora of San Juan City and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya on June 2; Negros Oriental Rep. Pryde Henry Teves on June 3; Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos and Palawan Rep. Frederick Abueg on June 4.
Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat started interpellating on June 3 and continued on June 4.

On June 8 (Monday), the session ended at 9:17 p.m. with only Lobregat as the lone interpellator from 5:51 p.m. until Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, known for questioning the quorum, took the rostrum at 8:13 p.m. and said “Mr. Speaker…’”

Quezon City representative Jose Christopher Belmonte covers the mic at a rostrum as more congressmen troop to  Buhay partylist representative Lito Atienza who is known for questioning the quorum as session was suspended on the evening of June 8, 2015. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
Quezon City representative Jose Christopher Belmonte covers the microphone at the rostrum as more congressmen troop to Buhay partylist representative Lito Atienza who is known for questioning the quorum, attempted to question the quorum on Monday evening, June 8, 2015. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The presiding officer quickly suspended the session. At that time, MindaNews counted 53 representatives in the session hall. Quorum is 146.

Session resumed at 9:17 p.m. but was immediately suspended until 4 p.m. Tuesday.

NORMALIZATION FUND. Zamboanga City representative Celso Lobregat (LCD screen) questions congressman Romeo Acop (standing)regarding block grants and normalization fund on Monday’s debate on House Bill 8511, the substitute to House Bill 8994 or Bangsamoro Basic Law on June 8, 2015 at the House of Representatives in Quezon City. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
NORMALIZATION FUND. Zamboanga City representative Celso Lobregat (LCD screen) questions congressman Romeo Acop (standing)regarding block grants and normalization fund during his interpellation on Monday, June 8. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

It was Lobregat’s third day of interpellations and he is expected to tackle what he says are unconstitutional provisions on his fourth day of interpellation on Tuesday.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate told MindaNews that 11 members of the minority had signed up to interpellate and only two have finished. He said they have requested that Tuesday’s interpellation will begin with Gabriela partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan followed by Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano and himself before Lobregat continues his fourth day at interpellating.

Maguindano Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, one of the Committee vice chairs, will take her turn defending the bill on Tuesday. Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, also a vice chair, took on that role Monday.

Wednesday’s session will begin at 10 a.m. and end until the interpellations are completed.

Wednesday is also the day House leaders expect the passage on third reading of the “Resolution of Both Houses proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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