MALACAñANG on Sunday appealed to lawmakers to avoid passing a “watered down” version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying while amendments may be made, they should not dampen the spirit of the proposed law.
“We respect the processes in Congress… the legislature. The President’s call is for them to keep the gist and substance of the draft BBL and not to pass a watered-down version,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Sunday.
In an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Coloma noted that President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his administration recognize the right of lawmakers to make changes as they see fit, if only to make the measure to be more constitutionally sound.
“They can push for amendments if those would make the law better… It’s their duty,” said the Palace official.
The Senate is scheduled to resume hearings on the BBL this week, more than three months since the proceedings were suspended as a result of the deadly Mamasapano clash in January where 44 elite police commandos were slaughtered by Muslim separatist rebels in Maguindanao province.
With the resumption of the hearings, Coloma said, Aquino expects passage of the BBL bill by next month.
“We are hoping. The government led by the President is hoping that both chambers of Congress will approve the draft [BBL] because this will be the key to ensuring lasting peace [in Mindanao], paving the way for more benefits and sustainable development,” he pointed out.
Coloma said Aquino’s expectations are “high” that the legislature will heed the request and acknowledge “emerging public sentiment” in favor of the measure.
“The National Peace Council met with the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro in the House of Representatives last week where they all agreed that the BBL will foster economic development and social justice in the whole of Mindanao,” he added.