Villafuerte prods Senate: Adopt House version for early passage of 2021 budget
MANILA, Philippines — If the Senate wants prompt legislation of the 2021 national budget, lawmakers in the upper chamber should consider to just embrace the version approved by the House of Representatives.
Deputy Speaker Luis Ray Villafuerte said this Thursday amid talks that the passage of the General Appropriations Bill for next year has been stalled because of the unraveling spectacle at the lower legislative body over the speakership.
According to Villafuerte, an ally of incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the Senate should adopt the approved budget bill of the House if it is the “better version” instead of the other way around.
“We also request them, if they want early passage, for them to adopt our version. In the first place, we will consider that but where is their version?” he said in an interview with reporters.
“If it’s in line with the thrust of the members of Congress, why not? But they should also be open-minded to adopt also our version if it deemed fit that it is a better version,” he added.
Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III suggested that the House adopt the Senate’s version of the 2021 budget measure if it wants to speed up deliberations at the bicameral conference committee and ensure the national budget for next year is legislated on time.
Both chambers of Congress have been passing the buck regarding the timely passage of the 2021 national spending bill. Both said they are not to blame for the possible delay in the approval of the budget measure.
Senator Panfilo Lacson has said that the 2021 national budget is already as “good as reenacted” as its timely passage is already “impossible” since the House abruptly suspended session until November 16.
Cayetano and his allies suspended the session on October 6, way ahead of the scheduled break of Congress on October 16, even if it is yet to tackle the national budget bill on third and final reading.
READ: House suspends session ahead of Oct 14 speakership showdown
But Cayetano said it would be the Senate’s fault if there will be a budget delay or reenactment of the 2021 budget, justifying that the lower chamber will only be delayed for a day in its transmission of the House-approved proposed budget to the Senate.
Sotto hit back at Cayetano for “passing the blame” on the possible delay to the upper chamber.
“The nerve! Passing the blame, it’s unacceptable!” Sotto said in a message to reporters when sought to comment on Cayetano’s recent remarks.
READ: Delayed 2021 budget the Senate’s fault? Sotto says ‘don’t be misled’
In an earlier interview, Villafuerte said the House is ready to take responsibility if the approval of the 2021 national budget gets delayed but the Senate must also do its part in ensuring that the budget approval will be passed on time.
He added that the House will transmit the approved budget bill on November 17 but the Senate can continue deliberating on it during the congressional recess.
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