Senators have agreed to resume sessions on November 9 to start their plenary debates on the P4.5-trillion proposed 2021 budget so they could pass it “sooner rather than later”.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the chamber will be informing their counterpart House of Representatives about their plan to open sessions earlier than scheduled to facilitate swift approval of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
Based on 18th Congress’ legislative calendar, lawmakers are set to go on recess starting October 17 and resume sessions on November 16.
“Yes, [we will resume on] November 9. I already instructed the Senate Secretary to inform the HOR, and they are not compelled nor enjoined to do the same. They can resume on the 16th as manifested in the original calendar,” Sotto told reporters in a message.
Before Sotto’s confirmation, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Upper Chamber was “90 percent” inclined to start their session a week earlier, but they would first have to get the House’s concurrence.
The House of Representatives earlier vowed to pass the GAB on third and final reading on Friday, October 16, giving the senators the time to study the approved measure before they formally deliberate on it in plenary.
“I’m confident kung naipasa nila ng third reading bukas, nai-print po nila yong mga dokumento at mabigay sa amin within the month of October, matatapos po namin ang budget, hopefully, by first week of December,” Zubiri said in a Zoom meeting with reporters earlier.
“We want to start work early para sa ganoon ay matapos na po namin ang budget bill sooner rather than later,” he added.
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Senate finance committee chairman, said they are now adjusting their schedule for their deliberations and the deadline submission of the subcommittees’ reports on the respective budgets of agencies.
“We were just discussing the new schedule, November 9, as suggested by our leadership. We moved our session up one week, and I just found out, so now we are working on a new budget schedule,” Angara told his colleagues during the plenary session.