“Book of hope” is closed for BBL

In a fitting description of the proposed BBL and what eventually befell it, House Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong (2nd D, Lanao del Sur) said in a privilege speech yesterday (Jan 27) that he is already “closing the book of hope for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

With only 3 remaining sessions before Congress goes on a long recess beginning February 6, Balindong admitted that the “House of Representatives has collectively failed the Bangsamoro people.”

On Jan 21, it was reported in some national dailies that the BBL would be put to a vote on Wednesday (Jan 27).

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member ad hoc committee on the BBL, was reported to have set the date for the voting that did not happen.

Balindong criticized his peers for denying the Muslims of their birthright. “ I see it in the process unfolding before us …. I feel it in the sheer lack of quorum which is obviously a deliberate tactic to filibuster and lose much needed time to pass the BBL.”

As of Wednesday evening, the period of amendment has not yet commenced as some congressmen has yet to avail themselves of the turno en contra, a period in which pro and anti solons deliver speeches.

An expert on the legislative process said that the House can set aside the turno en contra if it so will to expedite the process. Speeches can just be attached in the records of the deliberations.

The 3-term congressman from Lanao assailed the “tyranny of the majority” which has effectively “killed the (peace) process” and “foreclosed all possible peaceful, legal and constitutional avenues for peace.”

Balindong expressed his fear that extremists can now easily exploit the situation.

“What we have not done is a perfect recipe for radicalization,” he said.

Balindong was seen leaving the plenary sessions immediately after he spoke. He was followed by Rep. Tupay Loong (1st D, Sulu) and Rep. Bai Sandra Sema (1st D, Maguindanao with Cotabato City) in what many interpreted as protest and frustration over the deliberate delay in the passage of the BBL.  

On the part of the Senate, the BBL was never discussed since it resumed session on Jan 18.

Either the principal sponsor of SB 2894 or the scheduled interpellator was absent during the past six session days. ####