Manila Bulletin

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.

Enough time

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.

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