BBL in the House

If the heavy revisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the Committee Level in the Lower House of Congress are not addressed and restored to the original version crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) or nearest to it, it is really disheartening. We don’t think we are really addressing the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people or we are resolving the centuries-old Bangsamoro Question or Problem.

Starting tomorrow, April 16, up to 19, the three Committees of the House on BBL, namely Committee on Local Government headed by Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr., Special Committee on Unity and Reconciliation chaired by Rep. Ruby Sahali, and Committee on Muslim Affairs led by Rep Mauyag Papandayan Jr., will vote separately on the proposed amendments versus the omnibus motion of Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema to adopt the original provisions of the proposed law.

For now, we do not know the final sense in the Lower House. What we know is the standing commitment of the House leadership to pass the BBL in May this year. The latest pronouncement was formally said by no less than the House Speaker during the meeting in Malacañang Palace on April 4 presided by no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Present, aside from the President, were Senate President Koko Pimentel, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Senate Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Secretary Jesus Dureza, Secretary Adelino Sitoy, Undersecretary Nabil Tan, Secretary Silvestre Bello III, and on the MILF side, MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Ghazali Jaafar, Mohagher Iqbal, Ali Solaiman, and Sammy Al Mansoor.

We have no reason to doubt this commitment. We take the words of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for it. We know he has a personal, as well as, official stake in it by being the main sponsor of the BBL in the House. We are also aware of similar commitment of House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas, as well as the support of the three committees’ chairpersons (Acharon, Sahali, and Papandayan) that they will pass a good BBL. Even the minority bloc is not making any negative comments, in fact, they are very supportive. We talked to many of them

Moreover, former President and now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from Pampanga had already withdrawn her version of the BBL. This statesman’s decision boasts the chance of the BBL to move freely in the House. Also very encouraging was the decision of the 49-strong member Visayan Bloc of the House of Representatives in throwing their strong support for the passage of the proposed law. Led by Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, the group issued a manifestation of support to BBL, a measure that is being pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

For those nemesis of BBL in the House, three of them, we are still appealing that they reconsider their positions in the light of what is good for the greater number and national interest of this country.  We are still reaching out!