Sen. Marcos hopes no BBL railroad in Senate

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Sen. Marcos hopes no BBL railroad in Senate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., Chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee, today expressed hope the scenario that unfolded in the Bangsamoro Basic Law deliberations of the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives will not happen in the Senate.

After a marathon 13-hour session that began Tuesday, the House panel finished Tuesday line-by-line voting on the 109-page draft bill, with the Malacanang version virtually intact save for some minor concessions to proposed amendments of BBL critics.

A progressive block of legislators in the Lower House cried “railroading” when the ad hoc panel, after meeting with the President twice, abandoned amendments previously discussed contained in the so-called “chairman’s draft” and pushed for an entirely new version.

“I don’t think so because our senators are very independent-minded,” Marcos replied when asked in a radio interview if he is concerned about the possibility the BBL will also be railroaded in the Senate.

Marcos said that in fact his meticulous and detailed scrutiny of the draft BBL was based on the suggestion of his fellow senators.

Still, Marcos said it could be expected for the members of the administration party and their allies to support the Palace version.

“But we are in constant communication with each other and I think that if it is evident that some provisions need amendment my fellow senators would support appropriate changes,” Marcos said.

Among others, Marcos said expected Senate amendments on BBL will focus on provisions on constitutional bodies, the so-called “opt-in provision” and the provision on Bangsamoro police.

So far, Marcos said that except from some billboard and media campaigns directed at him personally he has not felt any direct pressure on him to rush the passage of the BBL in his committee.

“Nobody has told me what to do. There were only reminders not to stop so we could not be seen as delaying the process. That’s why we have hearings (on BBL) practically every week,” Marcos said.

And after two more hearings for sectors who felt left out in the process, one on May 25 for the sultanates and indigenous people, and another on June 3 for local government officials, Marcos his panel could buckle down to the task of writing its report.

The senator has been saying that for BBL to work it should be all-inclusive and that it should be backed by popular support.

However, public attitude towards BBL has been eroded after the January 25 Mamasapano incident as reflected in the recent Social Weather Station survey showing only 23 percent of the Filipino people support the passage of the proposed law.

While interest in BBL was lacking at the start, Marcos said the sacrifice of the 44 Special Action Forces commandos slain in Mamasapano has directed public attention into the proposed law that would have a profound impact on Mindanao but on the entire country as well.

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