Senator Marcos open to special sessions for Bangsamoro bill

Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday he is open to the idea of holding special sessions to assure that the plenary debates on his substitute bill for Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be finished before the filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) next month. Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said it is up to the discretion of Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to call special sessions.

Under the Constitution, Article VI, Section 15, “the President may call a special session any time.”

“I will leave it to the discretion of the Senate president and the House speaker,” Marcos said in a media interview after gracing the 11th anniversary of the Renaissance School of Science and Technology (RSST) in Morong, Rizal.

Marcos said the special sessions for the Basic Law on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) can be held in the morning from Monday to Thursday. He admitted that it is difficult to predict how long the Senate will complete the plenary discussion on the proposed measure.

“You cannot stop the senators from throwing their questions and from making their suggestions and amendments,” Marcos said. “If the pacing of the debates is too slow, perhaps we can add more time. But we cannot rush the debates. We have to listen to all the amendments and suggestions of the senators,” he added.

Marcos said the proposed national budget for 2016 might also affect the immediate passage of the BLBAR. The Senate has its tradition to stop all the pending bills to give way for the plenary debates on the proposed PhP3.002-trillion national budget for next year.

If the Bangsamoro bill will not be approved before the filing of the COCs, Marcos said the candidates in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) can file their COCs as candidates for ARMM.

Once enacted into law, the Bangsamoro government will replace the ARMM with the approval of the people of Mindanao through a plebiscite.