Senate President Vicente Sotto III has accepted the apology of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for his remarks that appeared to be passing the blame on the Senate for any delays in the approval of the 2021 national budget.
Following the House Speaker’s apology via Facebook Live Thursday afternoon, Sotto confirmed that Cayetano indeed called him to apologize and explain about his statement Wednesday night. Cayetano had earlier said that there will only be a one-day delay in their budget approval and that any delays or having a reenacted budget next year will be “because of the Senate and not of the House.”
This did not sit well with Sotto, who hit back at Cayetano and other House leaders for using the Senate as a scapegoat for the possible delay of the passage of the P4.5-trillion government spending plan for next year due to their speakership row.
“(Apology) Accepted and I said we will do our best to work on the time we have as the Senate always does,” Sotto said in a message to reporters over Viber.
Sotto said the House leader promised to send to the Senate in advance the copies of the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) which congressmen will approve on Nov. 16.
“He (Cayetano) promised to submit by Nov. 5 their proposed copies of the different budget books, which they will approve on third reading. I said that will help us specially our Finance (Committee) chairman,” he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she believes that Senate will not allow itself to be dragged into the issues in the House and will still be able to pass the budget on time.
“The Senate is working overtime to pass the national budget. This is one of the most important budget deliberations of our generation and we will not allow it to be delayed by petty politics,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“I have confidence that my fellow senators are very mindful of our country’s priorities, especially in the middle of a pandemic and an impending recession. We are keeping our eye on the ball. We started on time. We can finish on time,” she added.