Malacañang is counting on Congress to pass the proposed 2021 national budget by early December to give President Duterte some time to scrutinize the measure.

roque 1 1024x683 - Palace hopeful Congress can submit the budget for Duterte’s signature in early December
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it would be “ideal” if Congress could submit the P4.5 trillion national budget proposal to the Office of the President by November but “December would be fine.”   

According to Roque, the Palace hopes President Duterte may sign into law the budget bill, which includes sustaining the government’s coronavirus response and recovery efforts, before the end of the year. 

“The sooner the better in December so that we would have ample time to go through it,” he said during an online Palace press briefing Thursday.

“Hindi rin ganoon kabilis ang pag-review ng budget kasi sa budget lang po may kapangyarihan ang Presidente na gumawa ng tinatawag na line veto. (It is not that quick to review the budget because only in the budget bill can the President make a line veto),” he added.

Roque said reviewing the new government spending measure would require “a line by line analysis.” “I think it has to be earlier than the second week of December to give the Executive time to review the budget and to see if it will make specific line item vetoes,” he added.

Once signed by the President, Roque said the budget measure will be posted on the Official Gazette to take effect and prevent a reenacted budget by January.

The proposed 2021 national budget has already been passed on third and final reading by the House of Representatives during a special session called by the President. A small group was reportedly formed to introduce some last-minute amendments to the bill.

The Senate has yet to complete its deliberations on the proposed national budget for next year.

The Palace earlier said the President would thoroughly review the budget and may veto any unlawful allocation in the budget proposal once submitted to his office.

A House leadership row earlier threatened to derail the timely passage of the budget bill, prompting the President to intervene, ask contending parties to settle their dispute, and call for a special session.

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