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Senate OKs BBL on third and final reading

The Senate and the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law which aims to attain lasting and just peace in Muslim Mindanao.

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, sponsor of the bill at the Senate, called for a roll call after the senators approved the bill on second reading early Thursday.

"With 21 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, zero abstention, Senate bill is approved on third reading," declared Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Senators Emmanuel Pacquiao and Leila de Lima, who is currently detained, were not present during the hearing.

Zubiri earlier said that among the amendments were the change from Bangsamoro territory to Bangsamoro territorial jurisdiction.

He said all provisions referencing to a sub-state status has been disposed of to clarify that the BBL is about an autonomous region like any other.

Zubiri added that the Republic's flag and national anthem, Lupang Hinirang, shall always be flown and played along with the Bangsamoro heraldic symbols.

He said Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio Honasan polished the chapters on the Bangsamoro police to state that it is part of the Philippine National Police with recruitment and promotions following what is nationally implemented.

He said military, national, and Bangsamoro defense were also made more explicit.

Zubiri said the provisions on the Judiciary and system of courts took cognizance and clarified the extent of applicability of the Shariah justice system on Muslim and non-Muslims.

He said land titling, management of protected areas, and ancestral domains issues were also enriched and made more accurate with correlation to existing land, environment, and fisheries resources laws.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said among the amendments he introduced “in order to strengthen the bill’s adherence to Constitution” was the deletion of the provision on “reserved powers” for the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, given that the Constitution already provides for the residual powers of the National Government vis-a-vis autonomous regions.

He also successfully moved for the inclusion of the provision reiterating “that the Bangsamoro people are citizens of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Drilon also amended the bill to remove the province of Palawan from the list of areas considered as historically part of Bangsamoro territory.  It was put on a vote following opposition from the sponsor and the BTC but Drilon’s amendment was carried.

Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the bill seeking to provide for the BBL.

With 227 votes in the affirmative, 11 in the negative and two abstentions, the chamber approved House Bill 6475, the version of the BBL proposal filed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, subsequently on second and third reading.

President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent Tuesday the proposed BBL. The certification allowed the Congress to do away with the three-day rule and immediately pass the bill on third and final reading after its approval on second reading.

The 2nd regular session of Congress adjourned its session Wednesday and will return on July 23 when the 3rd regular session starts. —BAP/KG, GMA News