Millions of pesos will change hands in congress to pass the BBL?

MANILA, March 21 — How often do many hear this general observation and commentary that when there is smoke, there is probably a fire causing it. Now we read about the multi-million pesos payoff rumor to lawmakers just to make the passage of the much criticized government endeavor on peace process.

The rumor machine says that each senator and each congressman can get P200-M and P50-M, each respectively, just to make the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the two houses a swift sail into law. The quick payoff will eclipse the lingering government PDAF and DAP fund malversation and misappropriations in scale and proportion. The money will make each and every good solon to walk to their banks with grins on their faces from ear to ear.


But alas, since it is only rumor fanned by the social media machine and technology, there is no truth on the matter. Really? Now the house leadership on Friday vehemently denied the reported P200 million ‘Malaysian money’ being given to each senator and congressman to pass the highly controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in defense of lawmakers stressed “there was no such thing (payoff)” in exchange of passing the BBL. Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate also shrugged off the alleged payoff.

Even the chairman of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) on Wednesday denied receiving Malaysian money to pay off members of Congress at P200 million each senator and P50 million each member of the House of Representatives to ensure approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Chairperson Vicente Lao, wants to disprove the rumor mill. It is because he was identified in a text message circulating among business leaders as the “money bag man” for Malaysia to buy off members of Congress, said he came to know about the accusations after it was brought to his attention by his friends.

Lao was referring to text messages circulating the past days. The text message states: “Wag natin payagan mapasa ang Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Ang Mindanao ay para sa buong bansa at sa lahat ng Pilipino. May balitang magkakabayaran sa Congress. P200 milyon sa bawat senador at P50 milyon sa bawat congressman ipasa lang ang BBL. Galing ang pera sa Malaysia na pinadaan kay Vicente Lao, isang AAA contractor sa Mindanao at vice chairman ng Mindanao Dev Council (We should not allow the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Mindanao is for the whole country and for all Filipinos. There is an information of a pay off in Congress. P200 million for each senator and P50 million for each Congressman for the passage of the BBL. The money comes from Malaysia through Vicente Lao, an AAA contractor in Mindanao and vice chairman of the Mindanao Dev Council) Pls pass.”

Lao said he was already taking steps to trace the source of the “scurrilous text message” circulating especially in the business circle. He said he was always for the approval of the BBL as it would pave the way for peace in Mindanao and encourage more investors to come in.

Suppose there is really money already stashed in one or more banks in Malaysia waiting for disbursement? Then we consider the source of the fund. One school of thought could be that friendly entities and sympathizers of MILF in particular, and the whole Muslim fight for a Bangsamoroland, have coursed a donation for the purpose. Or any person, organization or even Malaysia has loaned the MILF the money for the purpose? Anyway, once the Bangsamoro Basic Law becomes effective, the MILF and the new Bangsamoro government will be able to pay off the loan with the continuous windfall of fund and support from the Philippine central government as provided and stipulated in the BBL. It is like baking the cake and eat it all too.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process was part and partially instrumental in the concoction of the BBL with the full backing of the administration.(With PNA report)


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