AFTER meeting with leaders of the House of Representatives last week, President Benigno Aquino 3rd is reaching out to leaders of the Senate in an effort to ensure immediate passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that has been delayed by the tragic incident in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province where 44 elite police officers were killed in January.
In an interview on Sunday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. disclosed that the President has been conducting consultations and holding talks with other leaders of Congress, “including the leaders of the Senate.”
“What we know is that [the President]continues to consult and communicate with leaders of Congress, including the leaders of the Senate,” Coloma said over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
Last week, Aquino vowed that he will see to it that the BBL is passed, saying he cannot renege on such major obligation under the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“Uulitin natin, tuloy na tuloy ito [We repeat, there’s no stopping the BBL]. There is not a better alternative for the rest of the country . . . It’s time to make a stand . . . Am I for peace or am I for war? I don’t think there is any politician who will stand up to say ‘I am for war,’ ” he quoted Aquino as saying during his meeting with leaders of the House of Representatives a week ago today.
Coloma said the President made the remarks when he was asked by a lawmaker about the BBL and how he intends to go about passing it considering delays caused by the now Mamasapano massacre.
According to him, he thinks the President was able to appease the House leaders, prompting Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, whose committee handles the BBL, to “set” a “timeline” for the proposed law’s passage.
Also on Sunday, Coloma hinted that the President is giving the BBL a harder push as he tries to convince lawmakers from both houses to support the measure.
“We all know that President Aquino and the government give a high priority to the passage of the [BBL]. Let us wait for any announcement on any meeting he would call [for Congress leaders],” he said.
Coloma noted that after the President’s explanations last week, the lawmakers were appeased and emotions seemed to have subsided.
He said Aquino reiterated the importance of approving the BBL in a timely manner to pave the way for the holding of a plebiscite and, if approved, to “give members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority sufficient time to demonstrate their capabilities.”
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the chairman of the local government panel hearing the BBL in the Senate, suspended all hearings in connection with the bill until after the Mamasapano incident has been clarified and officials were made answerable for lapses.