MANILA: Congress is running out of time to scrutinise and approve the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law as it has yet to receive the document from Malacanang that seeks to establish a new autonomous region in Mindanao next year, leaders of the House of Representatives warned yesterday.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr said he wants the House to have enough time to review the proposed law to help in ensuring lasting peace and prosperity in southern Philippines.
“No word yet from the Palace,” Belmonte said.
“Once I get one, I will study it as soon as possible. We will ensure that it will qualify and pass our Constitution,” he added.
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission submitted the draft of the document to Malacanang last month, but President Aquino’s spokespersons said the proposed law would have to undergo another review.
House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Representative Neptali Gonzales II warned that every day of delay in submitting the proposed law means less time for lawmakers to study it and make sure it is not declared as unconstitutional.
“We want to discuss and deliberate it now before we adjourn again next month,” Gonzales said as he reiterated some of the steps to be taken by the House to speed up such as forming an ad hoc panel composed of various committees to review the document.
Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent bloc, said the House must address serious concerns raised by Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) that reviewed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and its annexes.
Philconsa chairman and retired justice Manuel Lazaro earlier briefed lawmakers on the constitutional issues of the CAB and its annexes that will comprise the proposed law.
“Up to now, we don’t have a draft bill but based on the perusal of the annexes, there are provisions that will not pass the test of constitutionality if we do not amend the Constitution,” Romualdez said.
Lazaro said the country is faced with a situation where Malacañang has committed that Congress and the judiciary will uphold the CAB.
The Philippine Star