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Zubiri wants House to defer hearings on CJ impeachment for BBL.

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri is appealing to the House of Representatives to delay its hearing on the impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno so that the Congress could work on priority measures first.

Zubiri bared Wednesday that he personally asked House Justice Committee chair Representative Reynaldo Umali to put off the impeachment proceedings until the second quarter of next year to pave the way for the debates on urgent bills, such as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The senator leads the subcommittee which conducts the deliberation on the measure that seeks the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region to replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). President Rodrigo Duterte had appealed to Congress to approve BBL to address terrorism in the region.

Zubiri told reporters Wednesday, after the BBL subcommittee's first public hearing, that he personally spoke with Umali about his apprehensions.

Zubiri targets to have the BBL passed on third and final reading in March 2018. Should the Lower House wrap up its deliberation on the grounds of Sereno's ouster, and recommend the filing of an impeachment case, the Senate would have to set aside some of their legislative works to convene as an impeachment court.

Zubiri, however, said that Umali had assured him that the House impeachment hearings will also conclude in March. "If that's the case, then we'll fast-track the hearing and debates here in the Senate," he said.

Unlike the Senate, however, the House of Representatives is focusing on measures on federalism.

Zubiri said he was informed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that congressmen are prioritizing the government's shift to federalism.

Zubiri, on the other, remained hopeful that the BBL will not be stalled anew as he believed that it may be initially set up prior to federalism.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, for his part, said approving the BBL is much easier than pushing federalism, which would require the repeal of the 1987 Constitution before taking effect.

"Let us first do what is more practical which is, enact a law, versus revising the Constitution," he said.


Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Dec 21, 2017
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