MEMBERS of the Visayan Bloc at the House of Representatives led by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo "Albee" Benitez on Friday, April 6, called for the immediate passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a statement, the group said it firmly believes "that the BBL will pave the way for long-lasting peace and socio-economic development in the proposed Bangsamoro region by allowing the establishment of a regional government that is anchored on the Bangsamoro identity."

"It is high time that we give our fellow Filipinos in the said region an opportunity for self-governance and to fully recognize their needs and aspirations," it said.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said Congress will deliberate on the proposed BBL when it resumes its session in May.

Rep. Winter Palma II, chairman of the subcommittee on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), before the session break said the committee on local government and Muslim affairs as well as the special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity are now in the process of finalizing the substitute bill which will amend the law creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

He said the committees have already conducted 18 committee meetings on the BBL.

Public hearings were also held in various areas like Cotabato City, North Cotabato, Davao City, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga City, Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Marawi City, among others. (SunStar Philippines)