Senate wants to resume session early to pass budget ‘sooner than later’
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is eyeing resuming session earlier than scheduled to get a head start on plenary deliberations of the proposed P4.5 trillion budget for 2021, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said.
“May plano kami to open the session early. We might open the session on November 9,” Zubiri told reporters in an online interview on Thursday.
According to the legislative calendar, Congress starts its break on October 17 and will resume only on November 16.
“We want to start work early. Para sa gano’n mapasa ang budget bill sooner than later,” he added.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives resumed budget deliberations after President Rodrigo Duterte called for a special session of Congress from October 13 until October 16 for the approval of the budget.
Duterte’s call for a special session came after former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies moved to abruptly suspend session with the budget bill only approved on second reading.
“I think nagbalik po sila sa debates on the floor, na-reconsider na nila on second reading yung measure at nagkakaroon ng debate on the floor on the defense of different agencies but I was told that they promised the President that they will try to pass it on third reading by tomorrow,” Zubiri went on.
(I think they are resuming debates on the floor, they reconsidered the second reading approval of the measure and they are having debates on the floor of different agencies but I was told that they promised the President that they will try to pass it on third reading by tomorrow.)
“So I am confident kung maipasa nila by third reading ‘yan bukas nai-print nila ang dokumento within the next couple of weeks at maibigay nila sa amin iyan within the month of October, matatapos po namin [ang budget] by first week of December,” he added.
(So I am confident that they will be able to pass it on third reading tomorrow, print it within the next couple of weeks and transmit it to the Senate within the month of October and we can finish the budget by the first week of December.)
For the Senate to resume session earlier than what is stated in the congressional calendar, Zubiri explained that they would first have to inform the lower chamber of Congress.
“We have to inform the House of Representatives,” he said.
“Ang plano namin (Our plan is) we will inform the House of Representatives that we will start our sessions early, kapag tinanggap nila yan at wala silang complaints diyan, today we will suspend (session) until November 9,” he added.
Zubiri said the Senate could already begin plenary deliberations on the budget once the body resumes session on November 9.
During the congressional break, he said subcommittee hearings on the budget of each department that have yet to be tackled would likely continue.
“I believe the good Senator (Sonny) Angara would like to continue the hearings on committee level…So even during the break, magkakaroon po ng hearing and iba’t bang (there will still be hearings of) subcommittees of the Committee on Finance,” Zubiri said. Angara chairs the Senate finance committee.
“It’s possible we can start the floor debates by November, gusto kasi gawin ni Senator Angara hindi na po kami magka-cramming, hindi na po kami magmamadali, gusto niya medyo relaxed ang atmosphere,” the majority leader said.
(It’s possible we can start floor debates by November, what Senator Angara wants is that the Senate would no longer cram or rush deliberations, he wants a relaxed atmosphere.)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.