Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday maintained that the Upper Chamber should not be blamed for the expected delay in the passage of the proposed 2021 budget.
“Do not be misled. The HOR (House of Representatives) has delayed the budget for a whole month. No one can ever blame the Senate for this delay. NEVER!” Sotto posted on Twitter.
The Senate leader responded to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s statements on Wednesday night that their approval and transmittal of the P4.506-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to the Senate would only delayed for a day.
From its initial target of October 14, the House, on Cayetano’s motion, instead planned to approve the bill on third and final reading when it resumes on November 16, and send it to the Senate a day after.
Senators had said that their counterpart’s abrupt suspension of sessions ahead of the October 17 recess would push back their deliberations of the budget measure for a month, raising the possibility of a reenacted budget next year.
“I hope that maging malinaw ito because kung magkakaroon po ng delay o reenactment, it will be because of the Senate not because of the House, because we are only talking about only one day,” Cayetano said in his Facebook Live.
Cayetano also noted the late submission of the National Expenditure Program to Congress.
But Sotto, in a message to reporters, said: “One month delayed na (already), hindi pa sila pasado on third reading (they did not still pass it on third reading).”
He added the House of Representatives should have passed the budget bill on final reading and submit it to the Senate before the congressional break based on the schedule agreed by both houses.
“October 17 is a month away from November 17!” he said.
He also hit back at Cayetano: “The nerve! Passing the blame, it’s unacceptable!”
On Wednesday, Sotto said that he was disappointed and concerned with the “very, very tight” timetable that the lower chamber would give them in passing the 2021 budget. He said senators would still have to study and scrutinize the budget bill.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the 2021 budget is “good as reenacted” as would be “impossible” for the Senate to pass it on time even as the House assured to approve it on final reading on Nov. 16.
The suspension of sessions in the House came amid the Cayetano’s dispute with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco over the speakership. Following his privilege speech Tuesday, Cayetano moved to immediately approve the GAB on second reading sans the committee and individual amendments.