House panel set to vote on Bangsamoro law; solons decry planned ‘secret voting’

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Monday, 11 May 2015 - Last Updated on January 13, 2017

The House of Representatives special committee tasked to deliberate on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will put the measure into a vote starting Tuesday to meet President Aquino’s June 30 deadline for the bill’s singing into law.

But the Bangsamoro ad hoc panel said voting will be done in executive session among the ad hoc committee’s 75 regular members and 23 ex-officio members.

Bangsamoro panel chair and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said some committee members have requested to keep the voting closed to public.

“There are concerns of congressmen who intimated to me that if we have open public hearing there will be a lot of grandstanding,” Rodriguez said in a Sunstar report.

Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc however criticized the panel’s decision to hold secret voting.

“This is absurd. The voting should be open to the public and it should not be hidden. Our constituents should know how we voted because this is a very important issue and millions would be affected,” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, a member of the committee, said.

Another Bayan Muna lawmaker, Rep. Neri Colmenares said Malacanang should not conceal the voting of lawmakers on the measure.

Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of the Bangsamoro law held a peace march from Sandigan Bayan to Batasang Pambansa on Monday to press for the bill’s swift passage.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, one of the BBL supporters, said the law should not be watered down to produce a political entity that is weaker than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“If the law is watered down and is weaker than the ARMM, then we might end up wondering in the future why the problems in our country have not been solved,” he said.

House panel members will hold the closed door voting on a per provision basis starting Tuesday.

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