Palace still pressing House over BBL

MALACAÑANG said Monday it is relying on the leadership of the House of Representatives to muster a quorum to continue the deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law and eventually to pass it.

“We continue to work closely with the leadership of Congress in efforts to enact the BBL,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Last week, Malacañang said time was running out to pass the BBL, the centerpiece of the Aquino administration’s peace efforts in Mindanao.

“Communication with the leaders of Congress on the timely passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law continues,” Coloma said earlier.

“We understand that time is running out to achieve this objective, but we need to acknowledge the importance of upholding the peace process.”

President Benigno Aquino III      has said he is confident the bill will be passed soon.

“I did ask recently both the Senate president and the speaker of the House and they both laid out, shall we say, some of the difficulties currently in passing the BBL, but they both expressed confidence that the BBL will be passed,” Aquino said.

“So, on the Executive’s portion, we would want to continue the engagement of our dialogue partners, specifically the MILF… we want the population in general in this region to experience the so-called peace dividends arising from this agreement.

“So even absent the Bangsamoro law, we are hoping that Congress will support the initiatives that will shower these people with the peace dividends and get them further engaged in the process.”

Aquino also said the government would continue to lobby the members of Congress to pass the law during their watch and pass it at the earliest time possible.

Quroum problems have been plaguing the plenary debates on the BBL in Congress, although the House is targeting to pass the BBL in December this year.

“We have full trust on the leadership of Speaker [Feliciano] Belmonte,” Coloma had said when asked if Aquino needed to talk to his allies so they would show up in Congress to muster a quorum.

Meanwhile, in Iloilo, Aquino said he was surprised by a paid advertisement by retired generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and other uniformed services who expressed opposition to the BBL.

The retired generals said the BBL and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro must not push through, claiming those would violate the Philippine Constitution and would not help achieve  lasting peace in Mindanao.

“I was surprised by the advertisement. I hope I would be able to talk to those who signed this,” Aquino said.

He asked the generals: “Are you really the ones who signed this? What are you opposing here in the proposed law? Have you even read the proposed law?  Or did you just listen to the so-called ‘experts’? What is the agenda of these ‘experts’?” 

Aquino said there should be an open discussion on the BBL and that he was willing to meet with the retired generals.

“I am open to meeting with them and I hope they are open to meeting with me,” Aquino said. 

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