Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri thanked the House of Representatives Saturday for heeding the Senate request to transmit the P4.5-trillion proposed 2021national budget to their chamber within the month.
“Mabilis po ang aksyon ng Kamara (The House acted immediately on our request). Nagpapasalamat po kami sa kanila dahil (We thank them because) it will make our work in the Senate easier,” Zubiri said in an interview over radio DWIZ.
Senate leaders have appealed to their counterparts to expedite the printing of their approved General Appropriations Bill (GAB) and send it to the Senate by Oct. 28.
Under the Constitution, the budget bill should emanate from the House before the Senate can formally discuss it in plenary.
Last Friday, Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Senate Committee on Finance chairman, said the House leadership committed to submit copies of the GAB in the last week of October.
Zubiri said the House’s commitment will give the senators enough time to study the budget bill and help speed up their discussions of the government expenditure plan.
He projected that by the end of November, the Senate would have approved its version of the GAB and have the bicameral meetings early December.
On the suspicion that the House planned to tweak the budget after the third reading passage, Zubiri, a former congressman, said “it’s been a practice” to finalize the bill after the chamber has already approved its provisions.
“Naging practice noon at ngayon (It has become a practice until now that) after we approved it in principle sa plenaryo (in plenary), inaayos nila (to organize it). Parang sa atin, tinatawag natin, na ‘subject to style’ (That’s what we call ‘subject to style’). Pero sa atin more of grammatical errors, ‘yung mga konting amendments lang, sa kanila, sa budget kasi puwedeng ginagawa po nila ‘yun (But for the Senate, it’s more of fixing the grammatical errors, some minor amendments, but in the budget, they might be amending that),” he explained.
“Kaya gusto namin masilip muna ng Oct. 28 para makita natin ang amendments na ginawa nila na wala sa original NEP na sinubmit po ng executive sa kanila (That’s why we wanted to look at it by Oct. 28 so we can see their amendments from the original National Expenditure Plan that the executive department had submitted to them),” he added.
The Senate will resume sessions on Nov. 9.
Zubiri expressed confidence that Congress will be able to submit to President Duterte the 2021 national budget before the year ends.