Lawmakers hit BBL ‘secret’ voting

Some lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Monday decried the decision of the Bangsamoro ad hoc committee to keep the voting for the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) secret.

According to Congress’ schedule, the Bangsamoro ad hoc committee will vote on the bill in an executive session from Monday to Wednesday.

Bangsamoro ad hoc panel chairman Rufus Rodriguez said the committee members requested for an executive session.

He said some lawmakers took issue of keeping their votes public for a bill that is riddled with constitutional issues.

Rodriguez said he would appeal to his members to reconsider the decision for an executive session.

“I will appeal to them that we have to be open… Their constituents should how know their electorate would vote (for this bill),” Rodriguez said.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said the BBL voting should be open to make the deliberations transparent.

“This is absurd. The voting should be open to the public and it should not be hidden. Our constituents should know how we voted because this is a very important issue and millions would be affected,” Zarate, a member of the ad hoc committee, said.

“Voting in the committee is pointless because we would also be voting in the plenary. So for the sake of transparency, it would be best that the voting on the BBL be open to the public,” he added.

Fellow Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares hit Malacanang for allowing the secret voting for the BBL.

“Whether the vote of a member is a ‘yes’ or a ‘no,’ the public should know. Malacanang should not conceal the vote of a congressman,” Colmenares said.

The House is expected to vote on a per line basis on the bill from Monday to Wednesday. The proposed BBL wants to create a more politically autonomous Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in the implementation of a government peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Lawmakers were critical of various supposedly unconstitutional provisions such as the creation of a Bangsamoro police, commission on audit, poll body, among others, but the Citizen’s Peace Council led by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide said the bill remains compliant with the Constitution.

Congressional support for the BBL waned in the aftermath of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident, when Special Action Force (SAF) troops clashed with MILF in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao and succeeded in killing international terrorist Zulkilfi bin Hir who was allegedly coddled by the rebel group.