THE chronic absenteeism of lawmakers in the series of hearings of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law does not speak of the support or lack of it to the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat said on Thursday.
Lobregat, who is a critic of the proposed Bangsamoro measure, noted that a single breadth would not be enough to make the lawmakers skip the plenary session.
Under House rules, the Lower House cannot deliberate on a measure when majority of the lawmakers are not around.
“The pending Bangsamoro is not related to the lack of quorum (majority attendance). Yesterday, there were lawmakers who were not around since they were in China for official business. Others are going around being prospective candidates [for elective posts in 2016]…there are a lot of reasons,” Lobregat said during the weekly Serye News Forum.
The proposed Bangsamoro law is a product of the peace agreement inked between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The Bangsamoro Region is supposed to enjoy fiscal autonomy and be governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament elected by the Bangsamoro Region’s inhabitants, on top of receiving an annual bloc grant of 2.4 percent of the national tax collection, a Special Development Fund worth P17 billion (P7 billion initially and P2 billion for the next five years) and a P1 billion transition fund for the infrastructure construction and rehabilitation.
“As for myself, you know that I have always been there [in plenary session]along with my colleagues here with me. There are other measures pending such as the Anti-Political Dynasty and the FOI (Freedom of Information) bill,” he added, referring to Reps. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol party-list, Gus Tambunting of Parañaque and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna.
The House of Representatives has 292 members, meaning at least 147 members should show up in the plenary session conducted every 4 pm from Monday to Wednesday to constitute a quorum.
Lobregat, however, admitted that he is not yet done questioning the proposed Bangsamoro measure.
“In the House, we are still in the period of interpellation. We still have period of amendments, before we put it to a second reading vote, then third reading. It’s a long way to go,” he pointed out.
“Even if we pass it in the House, we still have to reconcile it with that of the Senate. We won’t have enough time for the plebiscite. We can pursue it instead next Congress and have it in place by 2019,” Lobregat added.