The leadership of the House of Representatives is set to file next week the Palace’s version of proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL).
Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas of Ilocos Norte, however, said President Duterte, during the third Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting last Wednesday, has allowed Congress to scrutinize or change the BBL drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
“We will file next week the bill for the BBL submitted by the BTC,” Fariñas told reporters.
“The President informed us that he will leave to the wisdom of Congress the final version of the BBL,” he added.
The draft of BBL was sent by the Palace to Congress last month.
The proposed BBL seeks to create the Bangsamoro political entity replacing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The ARMM was established in 1989 through Republic Act 6734.
In the lower chamber, there are versions of the proposed BBL filed by several lawmakers, including Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
According to Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, the chamber will consolidate lawmakers’ versions of the BBL with the version of the Palace.
During the 16th Congress, the passage of the BBL was derailed following the Mamasapano encounter, where 44 members of Special Action Force were killed allegedly by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Meanwhile, Fariñas said the Ledac has also agreed to just amend the implementing rules and regulations of the Government Procurement Reform Act, or the Republic Act (RA) 9184, to strengthen the government fight against corruption.
“The President reiterated his fight against corruption and we discussed the need to amend the Government Procurement Reform Act [GPPB],” he said.
“[However] we agreed that the GPPB created under RA 9184 will first determine if the amendments sought may be carried out by the GPPB through its implementing rules and regulations,” Fariñas added.
If not, Fariñas said the procurement policy board will inform Congress of the amendments that need to be legislated upon.
In the same Ledac meeting, Fariñas said Duterte has backed proposal of lawmakers allowing barangay captains to retain their positions through holdover capacity.
“In regard to the postponement of the barangay and SK elections, the President informed us that he agrees with our position that the incumbent barangay officials will hold over as such because is not really keen in appointing people into elective positions,” Fariñas said.
According to the majority leader, the lower chamber will decide on Monday if it will adopt the Senate version of the bill postponing the barangay elections, since “the [Senate] has substantially adopted the version of the House of Representatives (HOR) except for some minor changes.” “If the HOR adopts the Senate version, no bicameral conference committee will be needed,” Fariñas said.
Should both house of Congress agree on the same version of the bill postponing the village polls, Fariñas said the bill will be submitted on Tuesday to the Palace for the final approval of the President.
The lower chamber passed House Bill 6308 deferring the October 23 barangay and SK elections to May 14, 2018.
Under the bill, current barangay officials shall act in a holdover capacity until the next elections is held. The last barangay elections was conducted in October 2013. Party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Cibac, chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, said the approval will help the campaign of the President against illegal drugs.
Earlier, lawyer Edmund Abesamis, national president of Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, backed the postponement of the barangay polls, admitting that there is a valid concern that drug syndicates and personalities will use drug money to infiltrate and influence the elections.
He said the postponement of barangay election will facilitate the clearing of drug-affected barangay officials who have already been identified to be involved in illegal drugs.