QUEZON CITY (MindaNews/27 May) – The chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (AHCBBL) was supposed to deliver his sponsorship speech Wednesday afternoon on what his committee now refers to as the “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” but it was reset for Monday, June 1, the same day the plenary debates begin.
“The sponsorship and plenary debates have been moved to Monday (June 1), upon the request of some representatives to have more time to study the substitute bill,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, AHCBBL chair, told MindaNews.
The 88-page substitute bill, HB 4994, was approved by the Committee on May 20, by a vote of 50 in favor, 17 against and one abstention.
What used to be an 18-Article, 242-section draft has been reduced to 17 Articles and 238 sections. The Committee deleted an entire Article on the Wali, a ceremonial head of the parliamentary system of government that the Bangsamoro is adopting.
After the voting last week, Rodriguez said the substitute bill would be forwarded to the Committee on Ways and Means and Appropriations, that he would deliver his sponsorship speech on Wednesday, May 27 and plenary debates would be held June 1 to 3 and 8 to 10. Earlier, he said they were willing to work from morning till midnight, even including Thursdays.
Rodriguez said they remain confident the House will pass the BBL before Congress adjourns sine die on June 11.
It’s a different story at the Senate.
Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said they will try but can’t be sure if they can pass the BBL by June 11.
“Sisikapin po natin, pero hindi po tayo nakakasiguro na maipapasa ito sa plenary by June 11, dahilan po sa ngayon ay mayroong pang hearing si Senator Marcos by June 1. [We will try, but we cannot be certain that this will be passed by the plenary by June 11, because Senator (Ferdinand) Marcos (Jr.) still has a public hearing on June 1], Drilon said in an interview with DZBB.
Marcos’ last public hearing is actually scheduled on June 3, with the governors and mayors of the proposed core territory and adjacent areas.
Drilon said he hopes Marcos’ Committee on Local Governments can finish its hearings and submit its report as soon as possible so the senators can be given time to study the report and committee’s proposed amendments.
He said he is confident that Senators will support it if they see that the Basic Law conforms with the 1987 Constitution, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today warned the Palace against making any attempt to prod the Senate into rushing the passage of the Palace version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, saying it would likely backfire.
In a press release posted on his website, Marcos was quoted to have said they have a “more or less tacit agreement” that they will try to finish the BBL before the adjournment but if it is not possible, “it’s more important to be able to pass the Senate version before Congress adjourns sine die on June 11.
According to Marcos, “the priority is to get it absolutely right. If we come in under the deadline, then fine. If not, then we’ll just have to adjust accordingly.”
He said at least 12 senators, including himself, have signed the report of Sen. Miriam Santiago, Chair of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment and Revision of Codes, that says the BBL should be “substantially revised” to withstand legal scrutiny.
The other signatories are Aquilino Pimentel III, Vicente Sotto III, Sonny Angara, Teofisto Guingona III, Gringo Honasan, Lito Lapid, Cynthia Villar, Jinggoy Estrada, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano.
Marcos said Santiago’s report, submitted to his Committee as the primary body tasked to deliberate on the BBL, will serve as their guide in their deliberations on the alleged unconstitutional provisions of the proposed law. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)