House failure to ratify proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law a 'temporary setback' - Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — Malacañang remained optimistic about the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law despite the failure of the House of Representatives to ratify the bill on Monday.

"We consider this as a temporary setback in the administration's goal of laying the foundation for a more genuine and lasting peace in Mindanap," the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson said in a statement.

"We, however, remain confident that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will sign the Bangsamoro Organic Law as soon as both houses of Congress finally ratify the bill," it added.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said they hope the law would be signed into law within the week.

While the Senate ratified the bill earlier on Monday, the House of Representatives failed to do so due to talks of a possible leadership change.

READ: Senate ratifies bill on Bangsamoro Organic Law

Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte was supposed to sign the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA). However, both the Senate and House of Representatives need to ratify it first.

"Definitely, walang mapipirmahan si President ngayong araw na ito kasi walang ratification from the House," said Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin.

[Translation: Definitely, the President will not be signing the bill today, because there is no ratification from the House.]

The House was adjourned until Duterte's SONA in the afternoon, despite objections from some lawmakers. They did not tackle the ratification of the OLBARMM.

Villarin explained the abrupt adjournment.

"There are talks declaring the post of speaker vacant. There were discussion among different political parties," Villarin said.

Some lawmakers confirmed to CNN Philippines there is a move to oust House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez from his post. He was supposed to be replaced by Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

READ: Pampanga Rep. Arroyo unseats House Speaker Alvarez  

Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri remains hopeful for the OLBARMM despite the delay.

"Its not the end for BOL, its just a temp setback you're looking maybe at one day," Zubiri said.

He added while the Senate wanted the signing of the Bangsamoro bill highlighted in the SONA, they "respect" the political power-play in the House of Representatives.

Duterte, the first Philippine President who hails from Mindanao, earlier certified the bill as urgent, prompting Congress to fast-track the passage of the draft measure. The bicameral conference committee approved the final version of the bill on July 18.

The historic law abolishes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) established in 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734. The ARMM groups the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The ARMM will then be replaced by the the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

According to the OLBARMM, a plebiscite will be held within three to five months after the President signed it into law. The plebiscite will determine if 39 barangays in North Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and the cities of Cotabato in Maguindanao and Isabela in Basilan will be included in the Bangsamoro territory.

The OLBARMM is the result of decades-long peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao (MILF).

The law institutionalizes provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, the 2014 peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF that ended decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao.

The Bangsamoro government will be parliamentary-democratic in form, a first in the country's political history. It will be headed by the regional leader called Chief Minister, who will preside over an 80-member parliament.