Global terrorism highlights need to pass Bangsamoro bill
MANILA, Philippines – The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and other parts of the world highlight the importance of passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) soonest, a former senator said.
Former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani made the statement in a news briefing after a meeting of BBL advocates with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other lawmakers on Tuesday, December 1. Her group urged the House of Representatives to pass the proposed measure.
"There is indeed a radicalization of ISIS in the world. [And] the Philippines is a very good candidate for that radicalization," Shahani said in the news briefing.
Also noting the migrant crisis in Europe, the former senator said that the Philippines "as a nation should think of unity and undivision."
"I think the passage of the BBL will show the political will of the Filipinos – who are Christians by religion – that we are one with our Muslim brothers and sisters in making one nation," she said.
Shahani and her fellow BBL advocates, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr and 1986 Constitutional Commission chairman Christian Monsod, met with Belmonte on Tuesday. Known BBL critic BUHAY party-list Representative Lito Atienza was also at the meeting.
The group called for the passage of the BBL, which both the House and the Senate promised to pass by December 16.
Rule on quorum
The advocates cited one obstacle to deliberations on the BBL – the strict rule on quorum. The lack of quorum has been cited as a major hurdle in discussion of the bill in the plenary.
But Atienza remained firm on the House rule, saying that they are not changing their position. "If there is no quorum, we cannot tackle BBL," he said in Filipino.
Pimentel said his group does "not expect the House to just disregard the rules" but argued that there are "higher objectives" to exempt the BBL discussions from the rule on quorum.
"Why cannot it be accepted as an exception to the general requirement because of the higher objectives in the search for peace in Mindanao? Because otherwise, more lives will be lost," the former senator said.
With less than 10 sessions left before Christmas break, there are concerns that Congress would not meet its deadline.
But Pimentel wanted to remain positive, as further delay in the passage of the measure would mean a major setback for peace efforts in Mindanao.
"What we would like to see actually is that the BBL will get through the process of Congress at this particular session, before the Christmas break. Anything beyond that will push the peace efforts backwards and we'll be back to square one all over again."
Despite the dimming possibility of the bill's passage, Belmonte told Rappler in a text message that they still assured the supporters they "are trying their best to pass it." – Rappler.com