Bicam to meet Duterte on crucial BBL provisions

Published July 10, 2018, 11:08 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Members of the Congress bicameral committee tackling the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will go into an “executive session” with stakeholders and reportedly, President Duterte, on Wednesday to thresh out issues on the most contentious provisions of the measure.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 117th anniversary of the Office of the Solicitor General at Le Pavillon in Metropolitan Park, Pasay City on July 3, 2018. (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, co-chair of the Bicam panel, said this as he admitted a stalemate over the proposed BBL’s provisions on Bangsamoro territory and plebiscite.

Asked during their dinner break Tuesday on whether or not President Duterte would be included in the meeting, Zubiri told teporters that he was “not allowed” to divulge what was agreed in the Bicam discussion.

He, however, noted that it will be a “meeting of leaders and stakeholders tomorrow to discuss the provisions territory and plebiscite.”

Reports quoting Isabela 1st District Representative Rodolfo Albano III said that the Bicam panel will ask President Duterte for guidance on the said provisions of the BBL. No less than Senate President Vicente Sotto III confirmed this, saying he was also invited to attend the meeting scheduled Wednesday afternoon in the Palace.

Zubiri, later, said the reports were “more or less” correct.

He explained that if not addressed properly, disputes on the territory and plebiscite may trigger “security issues” and cause parties to “walk away from the peace table.”

In a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Zubiri said congressmen were opposed to the Senate’s proposal to the include the 39 barangays of North Cotabato and six towns of Lanao del Norte in the Bangsamoro entity without the majority vote of all the residents of their respective provinces.

The senator, meanwhile, confessed that deliberations are slowing down as they discuss the most crucial provisions of the proposed BBL.

Aside from the provisions of the Bangsamoro territory and plebiscite, lawmakers are yet to debate on the articles on powers of government; taxes and fiscal matters; and justice system or the Shari’ah court.

“It’s going a bit slow but we will finish it tonight in terms of what we can,” Zubiri said.

He also confirmed reports that there were tension among members of the Lower House in their deliberations. Some members of the Bicam panel are “anti-BBL,” he noted.

“Even I myself got frustrated to some panel members,” he said without mentioning names.

Zubiri stressed that they are being very careful in approving each provision of the BBL as it is seen to spell the outcome of country’s peace process.

He said that they cannot rush what he described as the “most difficult piece of legislation in my entire 16 years of service as a legislator.”