Mohagher Iqbal appeals passage of BBL to lawmakers

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal on Wednesday urged Malacanang to certify as urgent the Basic Law on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR). Iqbal, in a press conference, said he also urged the House and Senate leadership to pass the BLBAR by November or December 2015.

“The only window of opportunity is the next deadline, if I may call it as such, which will be in November to December. After that, it is all politics that fill the air,” Iqbal said.

“I appeal to the honorable members of both Chambers of Congress to rise up to the occasion and be statesmen even for one moment in the history of this country. The fate of the BBL is in your hands, and history will judge you on how you dispense with the BBL,” he added.

Earlier, the House leadership said that lawmakers’ “conscience votes” would decide the fate of the proposed BLBAR at the lower chamber.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted that the lower chamber may not approve the proposed BLBAR before its December 16 deadline, saying he will not do a campaign to force his colleagues to pass it. “I’m not going to talk to everybody for you to vote this way, that way, let everybody vote the way he wants to have it voted,” Belmonte said.

He also said that the chamber is running out of time to pass the proposed BLBAR. The lawmaker said that the long line of lawmakers who want to interpellate has stretched the legislative process for the BLBAR.

However, Senate President Franklin Drilon said they will work hard to finish deliberation when they resume in November for the timely passage of the budget and BBL hopefully by December.

“We will resume debates on the Bangsamoro Basic Law when we come back in November and we will continue to work hard on it. So, hopefully, it will be passed in the Senate by December,” Drilon said.