GOVERNMENT chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on Monday appealed to members of Congress to attend the remaining session days to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying that lack of quorum and “absenteeism” smacks of “historical disunity.”
“Prior to recess, our Congress has been plagued by a lack of quorum and absenteeism. I call on our lawmakers, under the leadership of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon, to collectively work together in passing this landmark legislation,” Ferrer said in a statement released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
She urged lawmakers to act promptly on the bill instead of passing it on to the next Congress.
“Passing the basic law that will establish the Bangsamoro region this Congress will allow the next president of the Republic and the next Congress to focus on other measures and bills. Let us act with wisdom and with full appreciation of the pressing and immediate need to correct this historical disunity,” she said.
Malacanang had transmitted to the Senate and House of Representatives the original BBL draft last year. The two chambers conducted separate public hearings, culminating in the endorsement of substitute bill known as the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Regions (BLBAR).
Ferrer bewailed that deliberations hit a snag at the Lower House for lack of quorum. “I reiterate the appeal of the GPH negotiating panel, of the (Opapp), and the rest of the proponents of the Bangsamoro peace process to our lawmakers to be present in the remaining sessions of Congress and finish what they’ve began,” she said.
She assured lawmakers that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is ready to continue the decommissioning of its weapons and combatants upon the passage of the basic law.
The next phase of decommissioning, which will involve 30 percent of the MILF’s combatants and weapons, will occur after the passage of the BBL and before its ratification through a plebiscite.
“As soon as the law is passed, thousands of MILF weapons and combatants will be decommissioned. Our mechanisms are ready to undertake this, especially the IDB (Independent Decommissioning Body) and the Joint Task Force on Decommissioned Combatants and Their Communities,” Ferrer said.
But Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza of Buhay party-list said the passage of the Bangsamoro bill is unlikely.
“Without a quorum, there will be no discussion, no lawmaking,” he said on Monday.
He added a number of lawmakers are also running in next year’s elections.
“A great number of administration congressmen are now busy campaigning,” he said.