Sotto rules out possibility of a reenacted budget in 2021

Published October 9, 2020, 8:46 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III is now ruling out the possibility of a reenacted budget in 2021 after President Duterte on Friday called on Congress to hold a “special session” next week to pass the P4.5-trillion government spending plan.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

“No reenacted budget!” Sotto told reporters in a message following Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s announcement.

The Senate chief said Duterte’s proclamation reiterates his call for the House of Representatives to approve the proposed 2021 national budget without delay amid the speakership row among its members.

The Senate will still hold sessions on Monday.

“Technically it’s the same thing. We are really set to have sessions till the 16th (October) anyway. So the order of the President puts emphasis on his call for the HOR to approve the budget on third reading and give the Senate time to study, review and pass the GAA (General Appropriations Act),” Sotto said.

In his speech on Thursday night, Duterte called on House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco to solve their dispute over the speakership and pass the proposed 2021 national budget in accordance with the Constitution.

Duterte also said that he will “solve the problem” himself should his two allies fail to fix their issue.

With the House’s expected approval of the budget bill on final reading next week, the Senate would have the time to study the proposed allocations before they start the plenary discussion in November, as originally scheduled.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said Duterte’s call to convene a session would help, but noted that “it also depends on the actions of the House”.

Sotto, for his part, hopes that both houses of Congress will “toe the line specially during the bicam” to avoid a reenacted budget.