Thursday, November 26, 2015

Senate to pass Bangsamoro law before campaign period —Drilon

From GMA News (Nov 26): Senate to pass Bangsamoro law before campaign period —Drilon

Senate President Franklin Drilon has expressed confidence that the Senate will manage to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law before the campaign period starts in February.

He said senators will resume deliberations on the BBL once the proposed 2016 national budget is passed in the first week of December.

Drilon said there is only one senator who has expressed his intention interpellate the bill's sponsor Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. when the measure is taken up in plenary.

"Pagkatapos ng budget ay yung Bangsamoro Basic Law. We have only one senator who will interpellate, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. We are not aware of any other senator," Drilon said.

"Assuming that this is the case, we should be able to terminate the period of debates by the first week of December. Assuming that there will be no senator who will interpellate, except Senator Enrile, then afterwards, we will go to the period of amendment," he added.

Drilon, however, will not speak for the BBL's chances of approval in the House of Representatives.

The BBL is the embodiment of the peace talks and agreements between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.

Drilon said senators had already finished the debates on the 2016 national budget Wednesday night. "We expect to pass the budget on second and third reading today," he said.

He said next week would be devoted for the bicameral conference committee meetings between the Senate and the House of Representatives to thresh out the differences in their respective versions.

"So we expect the bicam will finish its work by December 4. We will ratify the Bicam report the week of December 7 to December 11, including the printing of the budget itself," he said.

He added they expect to submit the budget to President Benigno Aquino III by December 14.

"That’s our target date so that the President will have a week to 10 days to review the budget and see whether he will exercise his line-item veto as he would traditionally," Drilon said.

"We are very confident that we will have the budget finished by the month of December," he added.

Aside from the BBL, the proposed Salary Standardization Law IV is also a priority of Senate.

"It is so important because in the budget there is P57 billion for the Salary Standardization Law IV. Ang kabuuan po ng alokasyon para sa SSL ay P225.8 billion which will be given in four years beginning 2016 with an allocation of about P57 billion," Drilon said.

"It is important that the budget becomes effective by January 1, 2016 so that we can expect this SSL IV," he added.

Drilon said senators would prioritize the passage of the SSL IV which will define the salary grades of government employees.

"We also want to pass the SSL IV within December so that in January it will be implemented with the funds coming from the authorization in the 2016 national budget," he said.

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