Senate may resume plenary resume early Nov.

Published October 10, 2020, 4:35 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate may resume plenary session in early November, days or weeks before its scheduled Nov. 16 resumption in a bid to ensure that, in the coming 2021 fiscal year, the Duterte administration would not operate under a re-enacted 2020 national budget.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III agreed with a suggestion of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson that they should resume committee hearings and plenary sessions early next month.

‘’Approved without thinking,’’ Sotto said of the Lacson proposal.

This would enable the Senate to accelerate its committee hearings and prepare for plenary sessions in anticipation of the expected approval on third and final by the House of Representatives on or before Oct. 16 of the proposed 2021 P4.5-trillion national budget.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said they have would a caucus on Monday to discuss that so we can get a consensus by then.

Senate leaders had earlier expressed fears that the government might use a reenacted 2020 budget because they would lack the time for plenary session and bicameral conference committee on the disagreeing provisions of the budget of the two legislative chambers.

Sotto and Lacson had forecast a ‘’bloody’’ fight between panel members of the bicameral conference committee over close to P500 billion in congressmen’s “pork barrel” appropriations mostly hidden in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Lacson is an anti-pork barrel advocate.

The fear of a re-enacted 2020 budget being used next fiscal year was caused by the unresolved House leadership struggle and the abrupt House adjournment of their plenary session after approving its version of the national budget a week before its scheduled Oct. 15 break.