No Bangsamoro law on SONA day dismays Palace

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2018 02:46 PM | Updated as of Jul 23 2018 05:47 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Malacañang on Monday expressed dismay over the failure of the House of Representatives to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law on the day of the third State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque described the House’s failure to ratify the bill in time for Duterte’s third SONA as a “temporary setback in the administration’s goal of laying the foundation for a more genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao.”

“We find it unfortunate that the Bangsamoro Organic Law was not ratified before the adjournment of today's session of the House of Representatives,” Roque said in a statement.

“We, however, remain confident that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will sign the Bangsamoro Organic Law as soon as both houses of Congress finally ratify the bill.”

Speaking to reporters, Roque said the Palace remains confident that there are enough numbers in the House to pass the proposed law.

He said the signing of the BOL was supposed to be the “surprise” of the President during his SONA.

Senators and congressmen last week reconciled their versions of the measure in bicameral meetings.

The Senate ratified the proposed law hours ahead of Duterte's SONA.

The lower chamber’s failure to ratify the proposed measure came amid reported plans to unseat Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. 

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the lower chamber’s failure to ratify the BOL has nothing to do with the proposed measure itself, but due to “leadership issues internal to the House of Representatives.”

“The BOL's non-ratification came when the House suddenly adjourned and it had nothing to do at all with some substantive issues of the proposed law,” Dureza said in a statement.

“The BOL suffered this temporary setback, as a ‘collateral damage’ to an internal leadership issue in the House but I trust and expect that in due time, the ratification which it deserves, will take place as a matter of course.”

The Bangsamoro Organic Law is one of the requirements under a 2014 peace agreement between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim rebel group.

It will install a Bangsamoro political entity in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and is envisioned to grant wider self-rule to predominantly Muslim provinces and cities.

Duterte is banking on the bill's passage to heal "historical injustices" suffered by the Moros.