Congress wasted time without passing Bangsamoro bill – lawmaker

MANILA, Philippines – “Today with a heavy heart and a disturbing sense of foreboding, I close the book of hope for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.” 

Lanao del Sur 2nd District Representative Pangalian Balindong made his sentiment known on Wednesday, January 27, during the period of interpellation on the bill that had been intensely debated but yet to be voted on.

On the same day at the Senate, a committee reopened its investigation into the Mamasapano incident, where 60 persons died, including 44 elite cops who clashed with Muslim rebels in January 2015.

The tragedy made a number of lawmakers rethink their support for the proposed law that would give wider autonomy and bigger resources to the Muslim-dominated region in Mindanao.

Wasted time

The lawmaker from Mindanao raised a white flag on the passage of House Bill 5811 or the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Region (BLBAR) during the period of interpellations about a week before Congress adjourns for the campaign season.  

Balindong said the 16th Congress wasted time on “51 public hearings, 200 hours of committee level debates, and 8 months of consultations” because the passage of the bill remains bleak. 

“Ms. Speaker, during our deliberations on the BBL, hope surged in the heart of every Muslim. It was a beautiful moment of love, reconciliation, and understanding,” he said. 

“All pains, sorrows, memories of lost loved ones and endless days of strife and war – all would be erased to give space for a new beginning,” he continued. 

But even though there have been endless debates on the “justness” of the Bangsamoro Law, Balindong said, there lies the “reality” that the Moro people are a minority, particularly in the legislative body.  

“There are only 10 Moro legislators against more than 280 members of this House. We are only 10 lone voices in the wilderness of bias, prejudice, and hatred,” he said.

In the end, the Moro leader challenged his fellow lawmakers to make one of only two choices: to repeat the history of peace or the history of war? 

On February 6, Congress will go on break for the start of the campaign season. Plenary sessions will resume on May 22, giving the legislative 3 weeks before the new leadership takes over. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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