The House of Representatives and the Senate will hold sessions five days a week in a last ditch effort to pass the proposed law for the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd said from three session days a week, Congress decided to hold extra sessions to rush the passage of the Bangsamoro and other vital measures pending in both chambers.
“We agreed to hold a weekly five-session day in the next five weeks starting Monday (September 7). This is to ensure the passage of priority bills, including the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic law),” Gonzales said.
The proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will enjoy fiscal autonomy and be governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament elected by the Bangsamoro Region’s inhabitants.
The measure has been largely ignored at the House for the past weeks for lack of quorum.
Under House rules, the chamber cannot deliberate on measures without majority attendance.
With 292 members, at least 147 lawmakers are needed in the plenary to constitute a quorum.
Lawmakers only hold sessions from Monday to Wednesday at 4 p.m., but congressmen drift in and out of the session hall thus, a quorum can only be sustained for an hour in a best-case scenario.
Gonzales said the House will have three weeks of five session days from September 7 to 25 to deliberate on the Bangsamoro measure and other vital pending legislations. Lawmakers will deliberate and pass the budget measure from September 28 to October 9.
Other pending priority legis¬lations include the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Bill, creation of the Department of Information and Communication Technology, amendment to Build-Operate-Transfer Law, Amendment to Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and the Revised Penal Code Indexation.
Malacañang also on Thursday said there is still sufficient time for Congress to pass the Bangsa¬moro Bill.
In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Secretary Her¬minio Coloma Jr. said Congress has three and a half months remaining this year and even if there are other important pieces of legislation pending, the BBL can be tackled during the period.
“It is up to them to decide what they want to tackle in their legislative agenda. And based on previous experiences, they have to refer to the calendar of bills. According to (Presidential Legislative Liaison Office) Secretary (Manuel) Mamba, in his view, we have enough session days,” Coloma explained.
He noted that there will be sessions in the entire months of September, October and November and half of December.
“That is why we hope that within this period, they will prioritize the General Appropriations Act and the (BBL),” he added.
Quoting Mamba, Coloma said it is still too early to tell if time would be a constraint for the BBL’s passage.
“The government remains in touch with the leaders of Congress with regard to the timely passage of the BBL,” he stressed.