DESPITE the chronic lack of quorum at the House of Representatives, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro, on Monday said there is still time to pass the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, the substitute for the much-criticized Bangsamoro Basic Law.
At a news conference in Quezon City, Rodriguez urged peace advocates not to lose hope for BLBAR over the absence of many lawmakers, and even if Congress and the Senate will have to go on
recess starting Oct. 10, two days before the start of the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections.
“BLBAR is very much alive,” he told reporters.
After the filing of CoCs, both chambers will still have time to take up BLBAR when they resume regular sessions from Nov. 3 to Dec. 16, he said.
“We will work hard for a bicameral meeting,” he vowed.
According to Rodriguez, “all resources of the House and support have been given” to pass the BLBAR, but the non-resumption of the interpellation period due to lack of quorum continued to impede its passage.
“The only problem is quorum,” he admitted.
Despite such, he said Congress has “the entire November and until Dec. 16 to finish at least 14 interpellations.”
He said it is impossible for Congress to tackle the bill’s amendments on Sept. 26, during which the deliberation of the General Appropriations Act has been scheduled until Oct. 9.
“Congress will have its recess on Oct. 10. We resume Nov. 3 until Dec. 16. We plan to amend immediately on Nov. 3,” he added.
He maintained the bill is “very much alive although we were not able to finish the interpolation.”
Rodriguez joined representatives of the National Anti-Poverty Commission and All-Out Peace, “a network of 17 networks with 200 organizations.”
“We support non-government organizations to appeal to congressmen to have a quorum,” he said.
The period of interpellation for the substitute bill, House Bill No. 5811 or BLBAR, was scheduled to resume in August, but sessions were always adjourned due to lack of quorum.