The measure that seeks to create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region appears to be fading into oblivion at the House of Representatives.
For the fifth straight day on Wednesday, the chamber failed to muster quorum in the plenary, prompting House leaders to adjourn the session.
Attendance had been poor since the third and last Regular Session of the 16th Congress opened on July 27. It was on that day that President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivered his final State of the Nation Address.
Since last week, the Lower House opened its afternoon session with only around five lawmakers on the floor plus the presiding officer. On Wednesday, the number of lawmakers reached 50 at 5:30 p.m., but this was still far from the majority number needed to declare a quorum at the 292-strong House of Representatives.
House Assistant Majority Leader Jose Christopher Belmonte said more lawmakers will be present next week when Congress begins its deliberations on the proposed P3 trillion budget for 2016.
“It can’t be denied that there are political concerns, but lawmakers will definitely be interested in the national budget, so the budget will definitely help our cause [in pushing for the proposed Bangsamoro law],” Belmonte said.
He however admitted that the BBL measure will again be pushed aside once budget deliberations start.
“We have to finish the Bangsamoro before the budget reaches the plenary. Otherwise, we can’t tackle it anymore,” Belmonte told reporters.
Developments at the House contradict the earlier statements of administration lawmakers who vowed to push the BBL bill in the plenary.
“We will hit the ground running once session resumes. We are set to continue with the plenary deliberations. I’d say prospects for the passage of the Basic Law remain very good,” Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro, chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro, had said.
“We in the House of Representatives will continue doing all we can to ensure that this much-needed piece of legislation is passed. We strongly support President [Benigno] Aquino’s [3rd’s] pronouncement that we should not wait for more lives to be lost just to realize how important this Bangsamoro law is,” Rep. Henry Oaminal of Misamis Occidental, vice chairman of the panel, said.