MANILA — The Palace on Thursday brushed off accusations that it offered legislators more than Php 1 billion worth of projects to get support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress.

During a media briefing in Malacañang, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said there was no truth to allegations that the Palace offered billions worth of projects to lawmakers to vote for the BBL’s passage.

Coloma however said that the BBL was a major agenda when President Benigno S. Aquino III met with congressmen last Tuesday.

“Batid ng ating mga mambabatas sa Senado at sa Kamara ang kahulugan nito para sa ating buong bansa,” he said.

“Patuloy na nananalig ang Pangulo na nauunawaan ng ating mga mambabatas ito at meron pa namang mga nalalabing araw sa kasalukuyang sesyon.”

Like what the President said during an interview in Europe last week, Coloma said President Aquino believed the BBL’s passage was inevitable and he hoped that it would be passed into law during his tenure.

In an interview with the Philippine press in Italy, President Aquino expressed high hopes that the BBL would be passed into law within, or even after, his administration to pave the way for lasting peace in Mindanao.

He said that despite the snag in Congress, he was confident that a very strong push could be made, but passing the BBL should happen sooner rather than later.

“I think the movement towards having the BBL in its present form or with a little modification is really just a question of time. It will happen,” the President said.

The Mindanao peace process was a major topic during President Aquino’s meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome last week. PNA