President Aquino makes one final push for BBL

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President Benigno Aquino III makes one final push for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as he holds a closed-door meeting with leaders and members of the House of Representatives.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Benigno Aquino III met with lawmakers in Malacanang on Tuesday (December 8), to discuss what will become of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Members of the House of Representatives—even those in the opposition—were requested to attend a lunch meeting. The president urged a hundred of them who heeded the invite to pass the proposed BBL.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II led the house delegation, while the president was accompanied by cabinet members led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr.

A call to ‘seize the historic opportunity’

In a statement, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the president pointed out that the passage of the BBL is now more crucial especially in light of the increased threats posed by global terrorism and radicalization.

Aquino asked members of the House of Representatives to rise to the challenge of being able to “change the narrative”—in reference to the cycle of violence and poverty that has contributed to the stalling of peace and progress in mindanao.

In the meeting, the president also cited gains achieved by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in attracting new investments amounting to P9.8-billion from 2011-2014.

The Italian government’s interest in the peace process in Mindanao was also mentioned.

The president also called on the legislators to “seize the historic opportunity” of enacting the BBL and lay the foundations for long term peace.

Tight schedule to pass BBL

The proposed BBL is still pending at the plenary at the lower house for second reading since September due to difficulty in mustering a quorum, while it is still in the period of interpellation in the Senate.

Its passage has faced several setbacks, including the January 25 Mamasapano incident where members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force died in a firefight with MILF troops and other insurgents.

Only five regular session days or a total of nine days remain before session adjourns on December 18 for Christmas break.