Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday urged the House of Representatives to submit its version of the proposed ₱4.506-trillion national budget to the Senate before Congress suspends its regular sessions on Oct. 14.
Despite the internal squabble at the Lower House, Lacson said he hopes their counterpart lawmakers can abide by the timetable they have set for the timely passage of the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
“Unang-una ang internal squabble nila tungkol diyan sa agreement nila na pagpapalit ng 15-21, sa kanila yan. Whether or not sundin nila yan, nasa kanila. Lookout nila yan kay Presidente kasi siya ang saksi mismo nang nag-usap-usap sila at naging saksi uli nang nag-confrontation sila. (In the first place, their internal squabble about their agreement, especially about the leadership change on 15-21, that’s up to them. It’s up to them whether or not they will follow through with that. That’s their lookout because the President witnessed their conversation when they discussed this and was also a witness when they confronted each other),” Lacson said in an interview over GMANewsTV.
“Sa amin sa Senado, ang bottom line lang sa amin ipadala nila sa amin ang House version ng national budget bago kami mag-break. Kasi may kalendaryo rin kaming sinusunod. Pagbalik namin sa November, plenary debates na kami ng budget. (For us in the Senate, the bottom line is that they send to us the House version of the national budget before we go on a break. Because we are following a calendar. When we return in November, we can start plenary debates on the budget),” the senator explained.
The Senate will take a break on October 17 and resume plenary sessions on Nov. 16. Senators have earlier made a commitment to use the remaining session days to ensure the timely passage of next year’s appropriation bill.
While the Senate can hold committee hearings during the break, Lacson said the Senate is hoping to start floor debates on the budget bill immediately on Nov. 17, pointing out that further delays in the plenary debates could delay the passage of the budget bill.
“Pagkatapos noon may amendment pa yan at may bicam pa. Kakayanin ba namin yan bago kami mag-break ng December? (After the debates, we will have to entertain amendments to the budget and then the bicameral conference committee meetings. Can we do it before we take a break in December?)” he pointed out.
Lacson pointed out even President Duterte does not want a reenacted budget primarily because next year’s budget is crucial to the government’s efforts to revive the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ang national budget napakaimportante kasi ang tema mismo ng (is very important because the theme of the) national budget is ‘Reset, Rebound and Recover’,” he stressed.