By Charmaine A. Tadalan and Camille A. Aguinaldo
MEANWHILE, the House of Representatives has officially requested President Rodrigo R. Duterte to certify as urgent the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to fast-track its approval.
“We aim to pass the said measure on third reading before the Sine Die Adjournment of Congress on June 2, 2018,” Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas said of House Bill 6475 under Committee Report 758, in their letter signed Wednesday and sent through Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea.
For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said the President wants to see first how the Senate and House versions compare.
“Malacañang expects House and Senate to have the same versions of BBL. Wala nang (bicameral conference) kung pareho naman sila. (There’ll be no need for a bicameral conference if both versions are similar),” Mr. Roque said.
He added: “So kinakailangan po kasi ‘yan, parehong-pareho para mapabilis; at kapag certified urgent ‘yan, pupuwede na pong maaprubahan ‘yan sa isang araw, on second and third reading.” (It’s necessary for both versions to be similar to fast-track proceedings, and when it is certified, we can have it approved on second and third reading in one day.)
The House leaders held a caucus this week as well as closed-door meetings with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the Government’s peace panel to hear proposed amendments on House Bill (HB) 6475. The joint panels on Muslim Affairs, Local Government, and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity had earlier approved the bill, principally authored by Mr. Alvarez, without amendments.
The Speaker said the BTC will deliberate on the objections and proposals raised during the meeting and is set to meet with the House panels on Monday, May 28. After which, they plan to hold another caucus to discuss with members of the chamber the agreements reached with the BTC before going to plenary.
For its part, the Senate is targeting to pass its proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on second reading on Tuesday, May 29, and on third and final reading also by next week if the President certifies the bill as urgent, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said on Thursday.
“We will be able to pass and finish the period of amendments by Monday, at the latest Tuesday. And then pass it on second reading on Tuesday,” he said during the Kapihan sa Senado media forum in Pasay City.
“And if we receive the certification from the President… then we do away with the three-day rule and approve it (on) third reading by Tuesday or Wednesday, at the latest,” he added.
Senate Bill No. 1717 or the proposed BBL remained pending on second reading as many senators participated in the period of interpellations.
Mr. Sotto said many senators voiced concerns over the bill’s provisions, especially the special powers of officials under the Bangsamoro government, the block grants to be given by the national government, and the opt-in clause which was described as a “creeping expansion” of the region.
“In the Senate, I think we will be able to come up with a conservative but well-crafted law. We are also optimistic that (when) the President sees the Senate version, we might get the support in many proposals that we want. The BBL might become the template for the federal regions,” the Senate leader said.