Senate wraps up plenary debates on proposed 2020 P4.1-trillion budget
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate ended on Wednesday its plenary deliberations on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.
The Senate started the period of interpellations last week and closed it off with the plenary approval of the proposed budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) amounting to P237.99 billion.
During the morning session, the proposed budget of the Judiciary (P40.17 billion) breezed through the Senate with Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta himself appearing at the upper chamber.
The Senate also swiftly approved the proposed budgets of the Commission on Audit (P12.463 billion) and the Department of Tourism (P3.889 billion).
The P1.6-billion proposed budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) was also deemed submitted and approved with no senator expressing intent to interpellate.
Meanwhile, senators lined up to raise questions and interpellate the respective budget sponsors of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the DILG.
Before the Senate approved the proposed budget of the DOJ amounting to P22.02 billion, former justice secretary and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon brought up the issue of what he said was an “alarming” number of vacancies in the National Prosecutors Service.
In an interview with reporters after the DOJ budget deliberation, Drilon appealed to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to act on the pending appointment of over 600 public prosecutors.
Drilon also called for the immediate release of the P1-billion allocation for the rehabilitation and construction of regional prison facilities in several provinces in the country.
During the plenary deliberations on DOTr’s proposed P126.860- billion budget, Senator Grace Poe inquired on the agency’s public utility vehicle modernization program.
Meanwhile, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa interpellated Finance Committee chairman Senator Sonny Angara, who defended the proposes budget of the DILG (P237.99 billion).
Both Lacson and Dela Rosa formerly served as chief of the Philippine National Police, which is under the DILG.
The Senate is scheduled to resume its session next week for the period of individual and committee amendments.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said senators are eyeing the approval on second and third reading of the proposed budget bill by next week.
The bicameral conference committee is expected to convene by the first week of December, he added.
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