Congress leaders to meet with Duterte on BBL

MANILA House Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas on Monday said congressional leaders would meet with President Rodrigo R. Duterte later in the day to discuss the contentious provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

"Yung mga (Some of the) contentious portions, we agreed kung sino yung mga (those who would be) affected areas or persons dadalhin namin kay Presidente mamaya (we would bring to the President later), para makausap namin si Presidente (for us to talk with the President)," FariAas said in an ambush interview following an all-member caucus.

"Because we have to admit that the negotiation process, the peace process on the part of the government of the Republic of the Philippines, when you say GRP, that's executive. The legislative is not included," he added.

FariAas said the meeting with the President would include him, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Senate President Vicente 'Tito' Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

"We would want to hear directly from the President what's the final position and the President will be meeting with us, the Speaker, myself and the Senate president and our counterparts to about the BBL this afternoon," he said.

When asked for the timeline of the bill's passage, he said the bill could be approved on second and third reading on Tuesday after the meeting with Duterte and if he certifies it as urgent.

"Once we agreed there once we meet with the President on these contentious issues, then tomorrow, if the President certifies this as urgent, after our meeting tonight, we will approve it on second and third reading tomorrow," FariAas said.

FariAas said the BTC has agreed to most of the proposed amendments to the draft BBL, including the naming of the entity as the Autonomous Region of Bangsamoro (ARB), retention of the central government's power and control over defense and external issue.

"In fairness to the BTC, they agreed to several of the amendments proposed. I'm working on the draft presented by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. There were amendments but many of them were accepted," he said.

He said the opt-in clause and the fiscal autonomy provision are still being considered for discussion.

HB 6475, authored by Speaker Alvarez, provides for the BBL and seeks to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The bill is based on the proposal submitted by the BTC to President Duterte.

It aims to establish a political entity, provide for its basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people. It will also push for their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for a meaningful self-governance. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency