THERE’S a move to deodorize the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by renaming it. I suggest that it be named the Law on the Bangsa Moro (LBM).
Sen. Bongbong Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Governments, said that his panel would review thoroughly the proposed LBM. I hate to be a wet blanket but I fear there’s nothing he could do once the “Defenders of the Faith” in the Senate come barreling in to ensure the passage of the Malacañang certified bill drawn by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (And Malaysians).
Sure, a committee chairman is supposed to be the “king” within his sphere but he could be rendered powerless by a determined push by the Liberal Party and their allies in the Senate. Senator Marcos may propose to even shelve the LBM but the LPs can always resurrect it, and to hell with the committee system. There’s a precedent to this, also with Marcos and the Senate LPs as principal characters.
In June 2011, Marcos who headed the same committee, rejected in a committee report the bills of the House and of Sen. Franklin Drilon seeking to defer the upcoming election at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). He explained that the committee hearings he conducted in the ARMM provinces showed an almost unanimous opposition by leaders in the region to the postponement of the ARMM election. In accordance with the Senate rule on rejected measures, Marcos moved to archive the committee report and the two bills.
It was then that the “Defenders of the Faith” in the Senate moved in, and there could be no greater defender than Drilon. They ran roughshod over the tradition-steeped committee system by invoking the never used Rule XI Section 30 of the Reports and Meetings of Committees.
This rule states: “If the reports submitted are unfavorable, they shall be transmitted to the Archives of the Senate together with the matters to which they refer, unless five Senators shall in the following session move for their inclusion in the Calendar for Ordinary Business, in which case the President shall so order.”
Previous to June 2011, this old-time Congress Insider was never aware of any other occasion when this rule was ever used and for good reason – it’s an affront to the committee that had submitted a report after several public hearings. Ah, but this meant nothing to the “Defenders of the Faith” hell-bent on ramming through a Malacañang-certified measure. The archives is the graveyard of the legislature but with the help of five other senators, Drilon resurrected his bill and brought it to the floor. Incidentally, his bill was a virtual carbon copy of the House-approved measure.
Until now, I’m still aghast at the show of brute force by the LPs on this matter. What was discussed on the floor wasn’t the report of the Senate Committee on Local Governments but the bill of Drilon. Traditionally, bills on related subject are consolidated in a committee report and it’s this committee report that should reach the floor. Drilon’s bill on the ARMM election was the first and probably the last bill that was ever discussed in plenary. Drilon sponsored his own bill although he wasn’t the chairman of the Committee on Local Governments.
If you think those violations of parliamentary procedures weren’t blatant enough, Drilon didn’t even bother to conduct new public hearings on the resetting of the ARMM elections. When he was reminded that Marcos had already conducted public hearings, Drilon said that he couldn’t be swayed by the results of those public hearings. Sure, he could be swayed only by the voice of Malacañang.
President BS Aquino The Last was ecstatic over the final passage of the bill resetting the ARMM election. The measure gave him the authority to appoint an ARMM officer-in-charge and he said he would name one with no intention of running for ARMM governor. He then named Party-List Rep. Mujid Hattaman as O-I-C of ARMM.
In a later development that remarkably demonstrated that BS Aquino’s word cannot be trusted, he later endorsed Hattaman as LP candidate for ARMM governor when the regional election pushed through in May 2013.
Going back to Marcos, I hope he won’t allow Drilon and the Malacañang acolytes to insult him a second time on the LBM. He has said that the measure needs a lot of amendments by deletion or substitution and it’s evident that Malacañang will never allow this to happen. Now, should the Senate LPs trample on the committee system once again, it should be time for Marcos to quit his committee post.