Mar 172015

At least 39 of the 75-member ad hoc committee tackling the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the House of Representatives have signed a manifesto calling for the postponement of next month’s closed-door deliberations on the measure until the chamber revives its probe into the Mamasapano police operation.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, one of the signatories to the manifesto, said he and his colleagues plan on gathering the signatures of two-thirds of the committee members, or a total of 50 lawmakers. 

The panel is set to resume executive sessions on the Bangsamoro bill on April 6,  over a month after it was indefinitely postponed due to the outcry over the January 25 Mamasapano clash. Committee chair Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez plans to hold a two-week long closed-door discussions on the bill,  have the members vote for its approval on April 16. 

However, Rodriguez will be forced to shelve the executive sessions if two-thirds of the committee will object to it. “Paano siya (Rodriguez) mag-uumpisa [ng hearing]? He can proceed if he wants to but that will not recognized as a committee hearing,” Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said. 

GMA News Online was unable to reach Rodriguez for comment as of posting time. 

Lobregat said that while he is not opposed to the Bangsamoro bill’s passage, he believes the ad hoc committee should only resume its deliberations until the House resumes and completes its investigation on the Mamasapano clash.

Over 60 individuals, including 44 Special Action Force commandos, died during the police operation to nab high-profile terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The House committees on public order and safety, and peace, reconciliation and unity had shelved their joint investigations into the Mamasapano incident after a single hearing pending the Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry’s submission of its report. 

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he would consider reviving the House’s investigation if he finds the BOI’s report unsatisfactory. 

“The questions that were left hanging have been substantially answered by either one of the two reports,” explained Belmonte. “What the people wanted to know about the President’s involvement was extensively explained and discussed in the two reports… If there are any specific points that need to be raised then of course the committees can take them up.” — DVM, GMA News

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