Quorum in House not for BBL but for Miss U Pia Wurtzbach

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/27 January) — The House of Representatives mustered a quorum Tuesday not for the Bangsamoro Basic Law but for 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL, said 173 House members attended the session to catch a glimpse and take pictures of Wurtzbach.

Rodriguez said most of his colleagues were no longer in the session hall when the beauty titlist left at around 7:30 pm.
“There was no longer a quorum when the numbers were counted,” Rodriguez said.

He said had there been a quorum, deliberations for the passage of the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region or BLBAR would have started and lawmakers would have introduced amendments to the bill.

The House conferred on Wurtzbach the Congressional Medal of Distinction, the highest award that the body can confer on an individual.

Rodriguez said he had hoped that BLBAR, his committee version of the Bangsamoro law, would have been deliberated on Tuesday afternoon.

“If there is just a quorum, I am sure the BLBAR will be approved because all the controversial provisions were already taken out,” he said.

But the Cagayan de Oro lawmaker said he remains optimistic Congress will pass the BLBAR before it adjourns on Feb.3.

“If it is not approved by Feb. 3 then that will be the end. Nothing will come out of the BLBAR,” he said.

Rep. Arlene Bag-ao (lone district, Dingat Island) said the BLBAR will be approved if the administration will push for its passage.

“The question is will the government really want it passed?” she said.

Bag-ao was in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro as guest of honor in the presentation of the new rifles to the 4th Infantry Division Tuesday afternoon.

Rodriguez and his committee tweaked the original draft of the BBL and came out with the BLBAR which was rejected by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

During a forum on the BBL in Iloilo City on Dec. 4 last year, MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said the House version of the bill retained 90 percent of the draft submitted by the Office of the President, but 50 percent of the provisions on powers was deleted.

In the Senate, Iqbal further noted, the version presented by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. removed 80 percent of the provisions in the draft bill, including those on territory.

“Marcos doesn’t want the term “territory” in the BBL, but this is cited 85 times in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) law,” he added.

The MILF has declared it won’t accept a BBL that would be less than the ARMM. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)