Palace hails House approval of ₱4.5-T 2021 nat’l budget
Malacañang hailed the approval of the proposed ₱4.5-trillion 2021 national budget by the
House of Representatives on third and final reading Friday, saying it will go a long way in the country's fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar made the statement after the House of Representatives was able to deliver on its promise to pass the budget on Oct. 16 despite the leadership row.
In a statement, Roque thanked the House for doing its part in passing the budget but hoped they will be able to transmit the printed copy to the Senate soon.
"We thank the House of Representatives for passing on third and final reading the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on time or within the special session called by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," he said.
"We hope the House of Representatives would transmit its printed copy to the Senate as soon as possible so that the Upper Chamber would be given ample time to act on this legislative measure, which has been certified urgent by the President," he added.
Duterte called on Congress to a special session to enable them to resume deliberations on the budget after the House of Representatives under former Speaker
Alan Peter Cayetano suspended sessions early this month after passing the budget bill on second reading.
According to Roque, Duterte has on many occasions, articulated the importance of the timely passage of the budget, especially at a time of the pandemic where resources are needed to fund government interventions to mitigate the adverse effects of the virus.
Andanar, on the other hand, lauded the House of Representatives for meeting the deadline, saying the 2021 budget will go a long way in the government's COVID-19 response efforts.
"We laud the House of Representatives, under the leaderPresident ship of House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco, for the approval of the ₱4.506-trillion 2021 GAB on its third and final reading," he said.
"We hope that the Senate's deliberation on the 2021 GAB will be swift and efficient, in order for us to be on track towards fulfilling our mandate to the Filipinos and our goal of healing, rebounding, and recovering as one nation," Andanar said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Saturday likewise thanked the Lower House for heeding their request to transmit the ₱4.5-trillion proposed 2021 budget to the Upper 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.
On Friday, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, Senate finance committee chairman, said the House leadership committed to submit copies of the GAB on the last week of October.
Zubiri said the commitment of the House will give senators enough time to study the budget bill and help speed up 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 suspicions 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 then 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, 'yong mga konting amendments lang, sa kanila, sa budget kasi pwedeng ginagawa po nila 'yon (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 submitted to them)," he added.
The Senate will resume sessions on November 9.