House panel approves Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region

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Fifty voted in favor, 17 against, while one abstained as the House Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday (May 20) approved the draft and the committee report of the proposed measure.

(CNN Philippines) – With a 50-17 vote and one abstention, the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Wednesday (May 20) approved the draft and the committee report of the proposed measure following a 13-hour marathon hearing that lasted until late Tuesday night.

The measure is now known as the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Malacañan allies in the House of Representatives accounted fro the majority of the 48 votes favoring the BBL. Eighteen were against while one abstained in what Ad Hoc panel chairman and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez Jr. described as “unprecedented” in the history of the Lower House that saw a piece of legislation undergo at least 50 hearings and participated in by almost a hundred lawmakers.

No minority support

Despite the approval of the draft, the House minority, meanwhile, said that they would not support the BBL draft that was passed which, according to House Minority Leader Ronnie Zamora, was a BBL version of the administration.

According to Zamora, if the majority is not ready to hear the valid arguments and amendments being put forward by the minority in the House panel, they are also not ready to support the BBL in the plenary, which he said, is clearly a Malacañan version.

Zamora and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said they had heard reports that members of the majority received Malacañan funds to ensure their support for the BBL.

And if this is true, he said, they strongly condemn it.

Jalosjos added that the problem with some provisions is that the BBL is not giving equal chances to those territories that will be directly under Bangsamoro government. He said if there is an opt-in provision, there should also be a section that allows them to opt out.

Zamora, on the other hand, also warned the House majority not to be too complacent.  He said they had talked to other members of the House majority, particularly those coming from Mindanao, who would not vote in favor of the BBL in plenary.  Zamora wouldn't release his numbers, though.

Fiona Nicolas contributed to this report.