Solons heed call of President Aquino, buckle down to work on BBL

August 5, 2015 5:08 am 

MANILA, Aug. 4 — Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday are heeding the call of President Benigno S. Aquino III to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and are already buckling down to work on the administration’s priority bill, which solons say is the “best option” to bring peace and development to the Bangsamoro and to Mindanao.

House Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Committee Vice Chair and Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop explained that there are only two options for the country — either pass the BBL, or allow the status quo in Muslim Mindanao to continue.

“Since there is no other proposed alternative, we are then left with two options: that of maintaining the status quo where problems have pervaded for decades or the hope that is embodied in the BBL,” he said.

“This representation chooses the latter which has the best chance of securing peace for Mindanao and hopefully finally ending decades of armed conflict. BBL is that option,” stressed Acop, a retired police general and graduate of the Philippine Military Academy.

While noting that the House remains open to alternative solutions to end the conflict in Mindanao, Acop emphasized that the BBL remains the best option to achieve this.

“Certainly, the members of Congress would be open to any suggestion that we would find to be a more sensible solution to the conflict in Mindanao other than the BBL. But we have seen that this legislation is the product of more than 17 years of negotiations to end an armed conflict that has cost our economy almost Php1 trillion,” Acop noted.

“If the critics have any other option that would be better than the BBL, then this is the time for them to give it,” Acop added, saying that the negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leading to the creation of the Bangsamoro “ is an exercise of statesmanship” and remains “within the bounds of the Constitution.”

Committee vice chair and Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal echoed Acop’s sentiments and gave his assurance that the House will continue working to pass the BBL. “We in the House of Representatives will continue doing all we can to ensure that this much-needed piece of legislation is passed,” Oaminal said.

“I firmly believe that the BBL is our best chance for peace and development in the Bangsamoro and in Mindanao. We strongly support President Aquino’s pronouncement that we should not wait for more lives to be lost just to realize how important the BBL is,” Oaminal explained.

Oaminal urged his colleagues to rally behind the approval of the bill.

“What we hope to achieve in the Bangsamoro goes beyond party lines and personal ambitions. BBL is about addressing historical injustices, establish genuine autonomy and paving the way for peace and progress for the Bangsamoro,” Oaminal stressed.

For his part, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the House is ready to resume its work on the bill.

“We will hit the ground running once session resumes,” Rodriguez said. “We are set to continue with the plenary deliberations, which we already started last May.”

“I’d say prospects for the passage of the Basic Law remain very good,” Rodriguez affirmed.

During his sixth and final State of the Nation Address last July 27, President Aquino reiterated his commitment to bring peace and development to Muslim Mindanao and again called for the passage of the BBL, a key piece of the administration’s agenda for reform.

But the main problem that needed immediate solution of the House of Representatives is to produce needed quorum to make the ball rolling.

Right after the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III, quorum becomes the main problem in the House. (PNA)

LGI/SFM

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