If needed, Palace to call for Congress special session to pass 2021 budget
MANILA, Philippines — If lawmakers are unable to pass the 2021 national budget by mid-December, Malacañang may call for a special session to ensure the passage of the proposed P4.5-trillion budget and avoid operating on a reenacted budget amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kung kinakailangan po talaga, meron naman pong Dec. 14 na adjournment for Christmas ang Kongreso. Kung kinakailangan after Dec. 14, doon po magpapatawag ng special session. Wala naman pong prejudice ‘yan,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised Palace press briefing Thursday.
The House leadership had earlier vowed to pass the General Appropriations Bill (House Bill No. 7727 ), which contains the proposed national budget for 2021 by October 14, two days before it was supposed to go on a month-long recess based on the legislative calendar of the 18th Congress.
But on Tuesday, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies moved to suspend the House session until Nov. 16 after the unexpected second reading approval of the GAB.
With the lower chamber suspending its session until Nov. 16 and the spending bill approved only on second reading, the budget bill will not reach the Senate before it goes on break on Oct. 17.
But Roque argued that there would be enough time for the Senate to pass the 2021 GAB even after the House deferred its 3rd and final reading of the critical legislation amid a power struggle between Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Duterte last year, Cayetano will serve as House Speaker for 15 months before Velasco replaces him and lead Congress for 21 months. Velasco was supposed to take over as speaker by Oct. 14.
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