Senate, House kick off bicam on P4.5-trillion budget for 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday began bicameral deliberations on the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.
The bicameral conference committee, which will be conducted in a “hybrid” set up in observance of health and safety protocols, aims to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the budget bill.
The Senate contingent to the bicam will be led by Senate finance committee chair Senator Sonny Angara. He will be joined by Senators Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Panfilo Lacson, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Christopher “Bong” Go, Imee Marcos, Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe and Francis Pangilinan.
Senators Manny Pacquiao, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Nancy Binay and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., meanwhile, were designated as alternates.
For the side of the House, the 21-member panel will be chaired by appropriations committee chairman ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap.
Joining him as vice-chairmen are Deputy Speakers Doy Leachon and Mikee Romero.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Deputy Speakers Loren Legarda, Lito Atienza, Robbie Puno are also members of the House contingent to the bicam.
Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc, Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit, BH party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera, Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona, Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez, and Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison, Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan, Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, and Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian, Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman will likewise be part of the panel.
House Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano will be the minority’s representative to the bicam.
Among allocations under the proposed budget is the funding for COVID-19 vaccine. The Senate version allocated a total of P83 billion for the procurement of the vaccines.
The Senate earmarked P8 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and included P54 billion under the unprogrammed appropriations or standby funds for the purchase of the vaccines which will be released depending on the government’s revenue collections.
Another P21 billion is placed under the unprogrammed appropriations under the Senate version for the storage, transportation, and distribution costs of the vaccines.
The House, meanwhile, will push for a P5-billion increase in the 2021 budget’s calamity fund, Yap earlier told reporters in an online interview.
Yap also said that the House and the Senate are planning to finish bicameral discussions on the budget by Friday this week.
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