House to approve BBL in October; Iqbal vows no war

June 10, 2015 at 13:43

By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2015 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Congressmen agreed yesterday to move the target date of approving the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to October, citing lack of support from a majority.

Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said the decision was arrived at during a meeting of the House leadership led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and leaders of various political blocs.

“It’s really about having enough votes. We can’t ram its approval even if we wanted to,” Gonzales told reporters.

Gonzales said the House leadership and advocates of the measure are considering moves to generate support, including removing provisions that are strongly opposed by many lawmakers, including those from Mindanao.

He cited the removal of the so-called “opt-in provision” in the BBL, which many lawmakers consider as destabilizing.

The provision states that any contiguous area may opt to join the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region upon the clamor of 10 percent of its residents.

Gonzales said Belmonte was pressing for a solution to have the BBL passed this week, but a number of lawmakers signified their intention to interpellate the sponsors of the measure. There is no time to finish the deliberations even if sessions were extended until Friday, he said.

Gonzales said the chamber would try to finish the period of debates tomorrow and resume deliberations in October.

The final session of the 16th Congress will start on July 27, but the House and the Senate will be busy with the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016.

President Aquino wanted the BBL to be passed before Congress adjourns on Thursday and had met with administration lawmakers at least four times over the past weeks in Malacañang to press for the draft’s approval.

War not an option

War is not an option no matter what happens to the BBL, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said yesterday.

In an editorial posted on its website, the MILF clarified earlier reports that it would go to war if the BBL is not passed.

“The MILF consistently maintains that no matter what happens to the BBL, the pursuit of peace would remain the menu in settling the armed conflict in Mindanao. War is not an option to the MILF,” the editorial stated.

The BBL aims to create a new Bangsamoro political entity with greater political and economic powers. It will implement the comprehensive peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF last year.

Both chambers of Congress are now scrutinizing the measure.

Among the issues being raised by the measure’s opponents are the extent of the Bangsamoro government’s powers and the nature of the new political entity.

Stop warning

Last week, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. urged the MILF to stop warning of war if the BBL draft submitted by Malacañang is not passed.

The MILF thanked Marcos for his reminder that peace can only be attained through peaceful means.

“Rest assured that we are on the same plane in the abhorrence of war. This is the reason that we agreed to talk peace since 1997 because, more than anybody else, we, and those soldiers who served in the battlefields in Mindanao, know exactly what war really is,” the group said. – With Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero, Perseus Echeminada


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