Alvarez to ask Duterte to certify BBL as urgent

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday said he would request President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) so Congress can approve the measure before it goes into its sine die adjournment on June 1.

“I would (ask the President to certify it as urgent), if that’s necessary,” Alvarez told the media in a press briefing after emerging from a three-hour all-member caucus of the House on the BBL to discuss concerns of some of the members of the chamber on several provisions of the proposed law.

Alvarez said he would likely be able to relay his request to the President to certify the measure as urgent within the day.

Earlier, President Duterte urged Congress to pass BBL by May 30 this year, saying the government is “racing against time” to enact the measure that could help keep peace in Mindanao amid threats of the spread of radical Islamic movement.

Alvarez also reiterated his commitment that the House would pass the measure before Congress goes on recess at the end of the month.

“Definitely, yes,” Alvarez said when asked if the House can meet the May 30 deadline. “We would pass that before our sine die break,” he said.

What was tackled in today’s caucus, according to Alvarez, were proposals to resolve “objections” raised by several members of the House on the current draft of the proposed BBL that was approved last May 16 by the joint committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs; and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

Alvarez said they decided to defer agreement on the proposed amendments pending a dialogue with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will sit down with the BTC to look at the concerns raised and how we can address these issues. It’s important to involve them (BTC) so we could lessen disagreements when it reaches plenary debates,” Alvarez said.

Apart from Alvarez, other House officials who would meet with the BTC include Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and the chairmen of the three concerned committees: Rep. Pedro Acharon of Local Government, Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, Jr. of Muslim Affairs, and Rep. Ruby Sahali of Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

Fariñas, for his part, said that after the meeting with the BTC the House would hold another caucus.

He said that while technically Congress can still hold sessions until May 31, the process would be faster if Malacañang would certify the measure as urgent.

“If we want it passed by May 30, the Speaker would request the President to certify the bill as urgent so we can approve it on second and third reading (on the same day) and then we could transmit it to the Senate. Then we can hold a bicam and if an agreement is reached, the President can sign it,” Fariñas said.

Meanwhile, Alvarez also wished newly-installed Senate President Vicente Sotto the best of luck.

Sotto officially took over the leadership of the Senate on Monday from Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on the strength of a resolution signed by 16 senators supporting his election as the new Senate president.

Pimentel is president of the administration party Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino, of which Alvarez is the secretary general.

“We from the House of Representatives wish him luck and we are hoping for an improved passage of legislation,” Alvarez said.

p: wjg