Senate President Tito Sotto dared the Congress to adopt the senate’s version of the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.
“Adopt nila ‘yung version namin. Bibilis ang bicam,” Sotto answered when asked about Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s willingness to speed up the bicameral process.
The senator doubted that Congress would follow the Senate version of the general appropriations bill but said anything is possible.
“We’re really staring at the possibility of a re-enacted budget. Isang buwan yung delay sa ine-expect namin. I don’t know how but sabi nila sa November 17 daw ita-transmit sa amin, eh kapag inapprove mo in third reading, may printing pa ‘yun eh… Ang daming kopya niyan, ang kapal niyan,” he said.
The Senate will continue its committee budget deliberations even during the October break. Senators expect the debates could be taken up in the plenary by November 16.
This schedule, however, would not be followed anymore.
The legislators said that even if the Congress transmits the budget bill on November 16, it would still take a week to be studied before it could be sponsored on the floor.
Sotto wants Congress to adopt Senate version of 2021 budget
The Senate President noted that there would only be 20 working days, at best, for the budget bill to undergo Senate interpellations, amendments, and bicam before the other Congressional break takes place on December 19.
“Even if we do it Monday to Friday, five days, you are talking about 20 days. Twenty days for interpellations, amendments, and bicam. Sa bicam pa lang siguradong madugo eh,” he said.
Senate Minority Franklin Drilon earlier said the “power struggle” between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco might delay the passage of the P4.5 trillion proposed 2021 national budget.
“Certainly, a power struggle in the House will affect our timelines, and I hope not because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. We have about 10% unemployment [rate], we’re expected to have a contraction in our economy, so a delay in the budget would be critical,” Drilon said in an interview on ANC.
Drilon added a similar “power struggle” in 2018 also hindered the 2019 General Appropriations Act’s passage.