THE House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law did not only retain Malacanang’s version of the proposed BBL but it further made the law more problematic, according to Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
At the same time, Marcos on Sunday said he will not allow the Senate version of the BBL to suffer the same fate as the one approved by majority of the 75-member ad hoc committee last week went through.
“The approved version of the House ad hoc committee is in many ways worse than the draft version submitted by Malacañang,” the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, noted in a radio interview aired over dzBB.
Marcos particularly cited the provision in the House panel version that would include 10 provinces that rejected inclusion when the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was established.
According to him, he will not endorse such provision since it was not even included in the version earlier submitted by Malacañang that already contained numerous constitutional infirmities, based on a report that his committee recently submitted to Sen. Miriam Santiago.
“We will stay with the draft BBL on the core Bangsamoro territory and I don’t see the need to expand it,” Marcos said, adding that some local government units (LGUs) are not willing to be included in the BBL.
The senator said he believes that the failure of the House committee to consult the LGUs and listen to their positions is the reason why congressmen decided to retain the so called opt-in clause in the BBL.
The opt-in clause allows other provinces outside the proposed Bangsamoro territory, including those that did not join the ARMM, to be included though a plebiscite.
Marcos said this clause that could lead to expansion of the Bangsamoro territory was retained in the version of the House ad hoc panel headed by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
“When I last talked to [Rodriguez], we agreed to remove the opt-in [clause]and I believe that they tried to remove it, but after the meeting in Malacañang the clause was retained,” he added.
The committee on local government still has two panel hearings on the BBL before it starts drafting its version that will be presented in plenary.
Marcos will be meeting today with representatives of the Sultanate of Sulu and indigenous peoples in Mindanao and listen to their position on the BBL.
Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Escudero believes that President Benigno Aquino 3rd will not be able to include the passage of the BBL in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July when the 16th Congress opens its third and final regular session.
Escudero also on Sunday said it is unlikely for the President to receive and sign the approved Congress version of the BBL before he delivers his SONA because of lack of time.
Congress only has nine session days before it goes on sine die adjournment on June 11, and according to Escudero, even if the Senate and the House of Representatives approved their respective versions by June 10, the BBL still has to be discussed in the bicameral conference committee.