Palace: BBL a 'top priority' of Duterte

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2017 08:41 PM

MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte may call for a special session in Congress for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, even as some lawmakers expressed doubts that the legislative branch can pass the measure this year.

During the Bangsamoro Assembly in Maguindanao on Monday, Duterte said he might call for a special session of Congress for the proposed law, which is meant to create a Bangsamoro political entity with enhanced autonomy.

Several senators, however, said such a special session is unlikely to happen before the end of the year.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said the Palace is not putting pressure on Congress to pass the bill before the year ends, but he noted that “this is one of the top priorities of the administration.”

“He didn’t say when he will actually call for the special session. He only emphasized that if need be, he will call Congress for a special session,” Roque noted.

“He did not intend or did not limit the time frame this year or the remaining part of December.”

Roque noted that a special session “is required when Congress has ran out of time…to approve bills.”

Congress will have its break from December 16, 2017 to January 14, 2018.

The BBL is the enabling measure of the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014. It was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission which formally turned over the draft measure to Malacañang last July 17.

The executive branch has already transmitted a copy of the BBL to Congress.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been seeking the immediate passage of the BBL, saying it will correct the historical injustices committed against the Moros and stem the rise of violent extremism in Mindanao.