PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte will certify as urgent the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “anytime soon” to expedite its approval, Malacañang said on Tuesday, a week before the scheduled adjournment of Congress.
“Anytime soon po, kasi ‘yan naman ang napagkasunduan din para mapabilis (because that is what has been agreed upon and to expedite [its passage]),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing on Tuesday, May 22.
He added: “The President promised to certify it. I cannot absolutely guarantee that the version of the House will be certified, because I haven’t seen the text. But if it is in conformity with what was agreed upon, then there should be no problem. The President should certify it.”
In his meeting with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Davao City last March, Mr. Duterte said he would use his “residual powers” to fulfill his promise should Congress fail to pass the BBL.
The President also stated that he would “assist even to the extent of relaying to both chambers of Congress his determination to help push for the passage of the BBL that is compliant with the comprehensive agreement of the Bangsamoro and as close as possible to the new draft law submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).”
Last April, Mr. Duterte directed Congress to pass the proposed BBL before it adjourns in June through separate letters sent by the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) to then Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez.
The Senate on Tuesday also asked Mr. Duterte to certify the Senate bill on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as an urgent measure.
The request was coursed through a letter dated May 21, as signed by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri.
“May we once again respectfully request that Senate Bill No. 1717 under Committee Report No. 255 entitled ‘An Act Providing for the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro and Abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao…’ be certified as urgent by your Administration,” the letter stated.
The letter also indicated that the Senate aims to pass the proposed BBL on third and final reading before the Congress sine die adjournment on June 2.
The proposed BBL remained pending on second reading in the Senate while its version in the House of Representatives remained in the committee level.
For his part, Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez remained confident the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed ahead of the sine die adjournment.
“We can still pass it,” Mr. Alvarez told reporters on Tuesday.
“The GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) has proposals and the BTC asked for three days so they can discuss these.”
“And I believe we can come to an agreement on these issues,” he added.
The House leadership on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with the BTC as well as the government’s peace panel to discuss amendments on the provisions of the draft bill. — Arjay L. Balinbin, with Camille A. Aguinaldo and Charmaine A. Tadalan