Congress leaders vow to pass BBL ‘at earliest possible time’

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2018 12:47 PM

MANILA - Leaders of Congress have vowed to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will grant wider autonomy to Muslims in the south “at the earliest possible time,” President Rodrigo Duterte’s peace adviser said Tuesday.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Senate and House leaders agreed, following a meeting with the chief executive late Monday, to “conclude their work at the earliest possible time” and reconcile their conflicting versions of the bill.

He said the President met with leaders of Congress and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separately to discuss the bill.

“The president initially expressed his personal views and initial assessment which resonated well to all,” Dureza said in a statement.

Dureza added the President also agreed to certify the proposed measure as urgent. House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and other congressional leaders confirmed this as well.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, a former lawmaker, however, said certifying the BBL as urgent “may not be necessary” as the Senate and House versions of the measure still need to be reconciled.

"There are kinks that are being ironed out but their promise is to pass the BBL. We would like the BBL enacted before Congress goes on recess on June 2," Roque told a televised press briefing from Mountain Province.

“The promise is they would do everything humanly possible to pass the BBL. Certifying it as urgent may not happen because of the conflicting versions of the Senate and House.”

A bill certified as urgent need not wait for the 3-day period between the second and third readings before it gets passed.

The Bicameral Conference Committee report on the BBL will be submitted for ratification by Congress in their respective plenary sessions on July 23, 2018, Fariñas said.

Fariñas added the BBL could be signed into law in time for Duterte's State of the Nation Address on July 23. 

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the group which crafted the proposed law, earlier agreed to the proposed amendments to the BBL following a meeting of lawmakers on Monday.