By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The government would have to operate with a reenacted budget early next year as the Senate opted to adhere to its legislative calendar and adjourn for the holidays, failing to approve the P3.757-trillion proposed budget for 2019.
The Senate has adjourned its session before 6 p.m. Thursday, December 13, and shall resume sessions aftera one-month break on January 14.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, in an earlier interview, said senators agreed not to extend their sessions anymore after the House of Representative adjourned on Wednesday.
He said they also took note of the manifestation of House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. during the joint session on martial law wherin he said that the Lower Chamber will wait for the bicameral conference committee for the General Appropriations Bill in January.
“Even if we finish the budget on our part here, [approve it] on second and third reading, hindi talaga matatapos at mara-ratify ‘yan kasi ang gusto ni Majority Leader Andaya, ‘yong bicam next year pa (we really cannot finish and ratify it because Majority Leader Andaya wanted the bicam next year),” Zubiri said.
“Ba’t pa tayo magpupuyat at maghihirap ngayon (Why would we lose sleep and suffer) — as you can see, we’re all very tired [with our] 12-hour, sometimes 14 hours, days, from Monday to Friday — na hindi naman kakayaning tapusin nitong taong ito (when Congress cannot finish it within this year)? So the mood of the senators is to continue this on January 14,” he explained.
Senators have also rejected the impending recommendation of Budget Secretary Bejamin Diokno to President Duterte for a special session of one week as they maintained that the approval of the GAB is still “physically impossible.”
At the continuation of their marathon debates on the 2019 budget Thursday morning, Senator Panfilo Lacson asked Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to block Diokno’s would-be appeal for a special session.
Medialdea said he would inform the President about the Senate’s position.