Muslim groups hold a protest to urge the passage of the Bangsamoro law at the Philippine Senate, Wednesday. The groups asked the senators to respect the peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).(MNS photo)

Muslim groups hold a protest to urge the passage of the Bangsamoro law at the Philippine Senate, Wednesday. The groups asked the senators to respect the peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 17 (Mabuhay) – House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. remains optimistic that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed by the House of Representatives on third and final reading before the end of September despite the quorum woes besetting the chamber.

“I’m hopeful it (passage of the BBL) can be done,” Belmonte said in a text message Monday.

“[I’m] requesting them lang [to show up],” he said.

Plenary discussion on the measure now called the proposed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region has been sluggish due to a lack of quorum in the House plenary.

The chamber has managed to muster a quorum only three times since the third regular session started on July 27.

Sessions adjourned earlier on a number of occasions after some lawmakers questioned the presence of enough House members to legitimately conduct business in the plenary.

Ad hoc panel on the BBL chair Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the main sponsor of the bill on the floor, has admitted that the lack of quorum has posed a threat to its passage by the end of September.

The House leadership wants to pass the Bangsamoro bill by the third or fourth week of September, or before the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2016 is brought to the plenary for debates and approval.

Consideration of pending bills is usually suspended once the budget bill is on the floor.

Instead of insisting on the proposed BBL’s passage during President Benigno Aquino III’s term, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said lawmakers should leave its approval to the next administration.

He believes Congress needs more time to deliberate the measure since the government peace panel “promised too much” to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Hindi lang ang Aquino administration ang may monopoly sa pagnanais na magkaroon ng peace sa Mindanao. [Let’s not] force the BBL’s approval now. Let the next administration tackle and renegotiate it,” he said.(MNS)