MANILA - President Aquino is expected to certify as urgent the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) once the House of Representatives approves the measure, which seeks to create a new autonomous region in Mindanao, by next month, a lawmaker said yesterday.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the 75-member special panel deliberating on the measure, said committee hearings on the BBL enter the homestretch this week with members of the Malacañang-backed “citizens’ peace council” as among the last resource persons.
“The President has promised that once we’ve already approved the BBL, the draft of the committee will be certified by him as urgent,” Rodriguez told radio station dzBB.
The panel intends to wrap up its hearings this week and schedule the voting on the BBL – section by section – on May 11 and 12.
The working deadline for both the House and Senate to pass their versions of the BBL is on June 11, or before Congress adjourns, Rodriguez said.
He added that Aquino is also ready to formally ask Congress to hold a special session in case lawmakers would be unable to meet the deadline.
“So it should be ‘pass your papers’ on June 11, so that by June 30, the agreement of both Houses will be fulfilled and the President will be able to sign (BBL into law),” he said.
Rodriguez said members of the citizens’ peace council – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, business tycoon Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former ambassador Howard Dee, retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and youth leader Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman – were invited to today’s hearing.
He said while recommendations from the council are welcome, it does not follow that the committee would accept them.
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent bloc in the House, said he hopes the council can “help polish the controversies behind the BBL.”
MNLF leader won’t attend BBL hearing
A ranking leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) declined an invitation from the Senate to attend the ongoing BBL deliberations.
Absalum Cerveza, head of the MNLF panel which forged the 1996 peace agreement with the government, told The STAR that Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called him last week through an emissary to extend an invitation for him to attend the Senate hearings on behalf of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari.
“I politely declined the invitation of Senator Marcos. The MNLF does not want to participate and become part of the drafting of the BBL,” Cerveza said. – With Perseus Echeminada
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