Manila Bulletin – Tight timetable for passage of Bangsamoro bill

By Hannah Torregoza | Manila Bulletin

ManilaBulletinOnlineSaying that Congress is racing against time in passing important laws, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. urged yesterday Malacañang and the Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC) to fast-track the submission of the proposed organic law for the Bangsamoro to Congress before the end of this year.

Congress is working on a tight deadline for the passage of the peace measure because it has to comply with the deadline set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Marcos said.

“We have a very tight timetable. The reason why the schedule is tight is because the plebiscite has to be conducted. That’s going to be part of the implementation of any law,” Marcos said in a weekly press conference at the Senate.

Marcos, head of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said the Comelec has explained it would be very difficult for them to adjust its deadline for the plebiscite because it would already be preparing for the 2016 elections.

Apart from the May 2016 national elections, the Comelec is also preparing for the conduct of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

Last Oct. 4, 2013, President Aquino signed into law the measure postponing the SK polls scheduled on Oct. 28 to a date that would be chosen by the poll body. The Comelec plans to hold the SK elections between Oct. 28, 2014 and February 23, 2015.

The Comelec’s deadline for the Bangsamoro plebiscite is around late 2014 or early 2015.

“The Comelec has explained that there is a deadline beyond which they cannot, or would be very difficult to hold a plebiscite because they are already preparing for the 2016 elections,” Marcos said.

“In fact, we came upon the same situation with the SK, that’s why we gave ourselves a limit from Oct. (2014) to Feb. (2015). According to the Comelec, if there is going to be SK elections we need to finish this before the end of February because by March and April they are already gearing for the 2016 elections. So it’s the same factor here in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

Marcos is hopeful that the Palace would be ready with the organic law when the Senate and the House of Representatives resumes its sessions on July 28.

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