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MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Monday, November 4, gave the cold shoulder to the proposal to adopt the House version of the P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020.
Senator Panfilo Lacson had made the proposal to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, to “prevent further amendments” by congressmen during the bicameral conference committee.
On Monday, the Senate ended its session early and convened in a caucus to discuss Lacson’s proposal.
After the caucus, Sotto said that the chamber cannot adopt the House version.
“We discussed the [schedule]. We cannot adopt. [There are] many amendments necessary,” Sotto told reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday said Lacson’s proposal might not be feasible.
“Malabo mangyari kasi marami sa ating mga kasamahan ang meron ding individual amendments. (It might not happen because our other colleagues have their own individual amendments),” Zubiri said.
For his part, the majority leader said that he wants to increase the budget for indigenous peoples, peace fund for the Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process, and budget for the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos.
Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos said that it’s “important” for the chamber to exercise its power of the purse.
Congressmen had approved the general appropriations bill minutes after the plenary passed the measure on second reading.
Because of its speedy passage, the House introduced institutional amendments worth P9.52 billion instead. Individual amendments will reportedly be introduced during the bicameral conference committee instead. (READ: Where House is proposing to realign P9.52 billion in 2020 budget)
Because of this move, Lacson made the proposal to adopt the House version.
“If we adopt the House version, [then] goodbye to their amendments…I just floated the idea hoping we can fast-track the enrollment of the budget bill and to prevent further mangling of the national budget by way of individual amendments,” Lacson said of his proposal. – Rappler.com