MANILA, Philippines – As expected, the House of Representatives won’t meet the deadline to pass the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) before President Benigno Aquino III’s final State of the Nation Address in July.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II told reporters Monday, June 8, that House leaders agreed to end the period of interpellation on the controversial measure before Congress adjourns the 2nd regular session on Wednesday, June 10. The session will start at 10 am.
Gonzales said they agreed to start the period of amendments after President Benigno Aquino III’s final State of the Nation Address in July.
A total of 31 lawmakers signed up for the plenary debates. As of Monday, less than 10 have asked questions.
The period of amendments is the more difficult phase in the passage of a bill because crucial changes to the measure requires votes from members, Gonzales said.
At the Senate, meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon said Monday the chamber might manage to pass the bill in August or September.
Congress leaders are targeting October as the deadline for the bill since it will mark the filing of the certificates of candidacies (COCs) for the 2016 elections.
Drilon said he is also considering the option of asking the Commission on Elections to move the filing of COCs to accommodate Bangsamoro candidates.
A product of the peace deal between the government and rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the proposed BBL seeks to create a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao that is parliamentary in form, enjoying greater powers and resources. It will be a unique set up from the unitary parliamentary system in the Philippines.
If Drilon is mulling moving the filing of COCs, the House is exploring the idea of moving the first elections for the Bangsamoro parliament.
Gonzales said a provision could be inserted in the BBL to to schedule the first Bangsamoro elections after the May 9, 2016 national elections. The first synchronized elections for the Bangsamoro could then be held in May 2019, he added.
This would however mean that the first batch of Bangsamoro officials would serve for less than 3 years, the House leader said.
Gonzales said this option would not contradict the law that synchronized the ARMM elections with the national elections since the Bangsamoro is a new entity.
“(The idea is) you already abolished the ARMM… so there is no longer any mandate to synchronize because what is synchronized by law in 2016 is the ARMM election,” Gonzales said.
Once the Bangsamoro bill hurdles Congress, it would have to be ratified in a plebiscite. Once ratified, the MILF-led transition body would take over until the election of new officers. (READ: 4 scenarios of Bangsamoro bill is not passed)
It remains to be seen what the final version of the BBL would be.
Also on Monday, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr said he is considering amending the ARMM law in place of the Bangsamoro bill, which he earlier rejected as chair of the Senate local government committee. (WATCH: Marcos releases video on Bangsamoro bill) – Rappler.com
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