Solons’ fear of defeat in 2016 polls if they support BBL stresses need for substitute bill

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today said the growing concern of many lawmakers that they would lose voter support if they support the Palace-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) vindicated his position to craft a substitute bill.

Sen. Bongbong cited reports quoting House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, Jr. saying that many lawmakers fear they would lose in the 2016 election if they support the BBL as at least half of their constituents reject the proposed law.

“The Palace underestimated the intelligence of our people. They know a bad deal when they see it in the version of the BBL that Malacañang wants Congress to pass without any changes. That’s why many lawmakers are reluctant to support it—for fear they would lose in the 2016 polls,” Sen. Bongbong said.

Sen. Bongbong also reiterated his earlier warning that BBL would not succeed unless it earns the support of the public.

“That is precisely the reason why I have been working to prepare a substitute bill that would remedy the flaws of the draft BBL. If our people are convinced we have addressed their concerns against the draft BBL in the substitute bill and that it is fair to everyone concerned, they would likely support it,” he said.

He noted reports indicating that the strongest opposition against BBL is coming from Mindanao, contrary to the assertions of Malacañang.

“When lawmakers fear they’d lose in the 2016 elections if they support BBL, you’ve got to listen. Their entire political future depends on their accurate reading of the people’s pulse. In fact, that is consistent with the public sentiment we got when we went around Mindanao for our BBL hearings,” Sen. Bongbong said.

The Senator said he and his legislative team have been working on the substitute bill during the congressional break so the committee members would have concrete provisions to discuss when they resume work after the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

Earlier, the senator said his top priority in preparing the substitute bill is to address the constitutional issues raised against the draft BBL, as well as issues pertaining to administrative and economic provisions of the proposed law.

“I can say categorically that the draft BBL, as it was given to Congress, will not pass in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. So there is really a need for a substitute bill,” Sen. Bongbong said.

The senator pointed out that his efforts are consistent with his vow to support the peace process in Mindanao.

“BBL alone will not be enough to ensure peace in Mindanao, but a good BBL will help us move towards that goal,” Sen. Bongbong said.

He earlier proposed a mini-Marshall Plan in Mindanao to spur modernization of the entire island and achieve lasting peace.

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