Saying that the Senate needs to prioritize the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, Senator Miguel Zubiri asked the House justice committee to postpone the impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno until the second quarter of 2018.
The senator made the statement after the first hearing of the Senate subcommittee on the BBL, which he chairs.
“I’m a bit nervous dito sa impeachment proceedings. I spoke to Cong. Umali the other day and I said ‘Chairman Umali, baka naman puwede n’yo na—kung magkakaroon talaga ng impeachment—na i-delay ninyo hanggang second quarter kasi napakarami pang mga batas ang kailangan natin pagdebatehan,” he said.
Zubiri has committed to conduct marathon hearings to be able to submit the BBL AS A priority measure for plenary approval by March.
“Sabi niya [Umali], mukhang March naman daw talaga nila matatapos ‘yong hearings on the impeachment of Chief Justice Sereno so I said if that’s the case, we’ll fast track the hearings and debates here in the Senate,” Zubiri said, referring to Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali.
Umali, chairman of the House justice committee, has been conducting hearings on the impeachment proceedings against the chief justice.
If Sereno is impeached by the House, the Senate would have to convene as an imment court.
Zubiri’s subcommittee is slated to conduct its next hearing on Jan. 18 next year. He expects that more Cabinet members will attend the deliberations.
He said he was “surprised” with the turnout of Cabinet members during the first hearing.
.“I was of the feeling that this was a priority measure. The President mentioned this in all of his speeches,” Zubiri said.
He said that secretaries of the departments of national defense, social welfare and development, interior and local government, and budget and management should be present during the next hearing as the
BBL will pave the way for “long-lasting peace” in the country.
“Kapag hindi naman ito maipasa, the unthinkable may happen and it’s something that we do not want to happen,” the senator said.
He added that the Senate subcommittee will also schedule hearings in Mindanao provinces, including Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.