Belmonte junks MILF appeal to restore 28 BBL provisions

HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. junked Wednesday the request of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to restore the 28 provisions deleted in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that was submitted to the plenary for debates.

Belmonte said they will only approve a version of the BBL that is “constitutionally complaint.”

“We have been proceeding very cautiously, but very deliberately on this thing (BBL) and what we have done is substantial,” Belmonte said.

He said that the 98-man ad hoc committee chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez cautiously crafted the BBL version to make it compatible with the 1987 Constitution.

“If we succeed in approving our version which is now pending, ‘di na rin masyadong malayo sa Senate discussion,” Belmonte said.

Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which wrote the BBL met last week with the House of Representatives ad hoc committee to discuss the deleted provisions regarding sharing of natural resources and preamble.

The ad hoc committee also removed the opt-in provision which sparked opposition from some lawmakers.

The opt-in provision allows provinces and cities adjacent or contiguous to the Bangsamoro to opt-in for inclusion by petition and ratification in a plebiscite by their voters.

Petitions to join the Bangsamoro could be considered only during the fifth and 10th year of existence of the Bangsamoro, the political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Those adjacent to Bangsamoro are so afraid, it might reach them over the years,” he said.

Meanwhile, Belmonte vowed to secure quorum during sessions starting next week to push for the approval of the BBL on third and final reading next month.

On Tuesday, the speaker met with officials of various political parties to address the issue of lack of quorum which derails the passage of priority measures including the BBL.

To form a quorum, at least 146 legislators are needed inside the plenary.

Belmonte said the House only mustered such attendance twice since the third regular session of the 16th Congress opened on July 27. (Sunnex)

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