House approves Bangsamoro Basic Law

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second and third reading the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which has been certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

With 227 affirmative votes, 11 negative votes, and 2 abstention, the House passed the substitute bill of House Bill 6475, which provides for the BBL and seeks to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The substitute bill contains the proposed amendments discussed during the three all-member caucuses.

Under the rules, the House can only vote a measure on third reading after copies of the bill that passed second reading are given to its members at least three days prior to voting. But with the President’s certification, the House can vote on third reading immediately after the second reading.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, emerging from an all-member caucus held Wednesday afternoon, said he believes that every legislation that the House passes is constitutionally sound.

He, however, said that it would not prevent anyone from questioning the BBL’s constitutionality before the Supreme Court.

“We believe what we are doing here is constitutional. Kaya (So) nobody can stop anyone from filing or questioning the constitutionality of a law,” Alvarez said.

Opposition lawmakers said the proposed BBL is unconstitutional as it seeks to abolish the ARMM, which was provided for by the Constitution, using just mere legislation.

The bill 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 and 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.

One major amendment is the conduct of only one plebiscite not earlier than 90 days or later than 120 days after the effectivity of the BBL.

There will also be a block grant to the region amounting to five percent of the national revenue. PNA