Senate to work double time to pass 2019 budget

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2018 05:13 AM

MANILA - The Senate is looking at a 14-hour session days to deliberate on the proposed 2019 budget in an attempt to ratify the measure before the year ends, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Monday.

“On Wednesday, we’re gonna start at 10 in the morning all the way to midnight everyday. We’ll play it by ear, depending on 'yung mga magtatanong, depending on the issues. Kung makita namin na mabilis yung interpellations at mabilis namin matapos ang iba’t ibang agencies, then we’re looking at Dec. 12 passage second and third reading,” he said.

“Ang matagal diyan kasi 'yung bicam. So hopefully, they can work on the bicam over the weekend, which is 13, 14, 15, and we may have to have a special session to ratify the budget the week after,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, however, is not as optimistic.

“Hindi natin puwede patayin ang sarili natin na matapos ang period of interpellation in 3 days. Kanina kausap ko Senator Pacquiao. Sa kaniya lang daw sa isang ahensiya, 2 oras ang interpellation niya. Kung 2 hours ang isa, mabuti kung isa lang ini-interpellate. So imposible,” Lacson said.

“Instead na parang topsy-turvy ang pag-approve namin ng budget mas mainam ma-scrutinize, ma-delay ng 1 month kesa sa hayaan namin nagkalat ang lump sum at 'di magagamit,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte wants to sign the proposed P3.575 trillion 2019 national budget on Dec. 15 to prevent a reenactment of this year’s capital outlay. Despite the goal to pass the 2019 budget in the Senate next week, Zubiri said senators will be free to scrutinize the measure.

Lacson, in particular, vows to block the alleged pork barrel insertions in the budget and name the lawmakers who will benefit from it.

“I-scrutinize kasi ang dami nilang ginalaw sa House... May nakita na kami. May congressman na nagkaroon ng additional P1.5 billion... So puwede ba pabayaan namin nang ganoon yan?... So papayagan ba namin mabuhay muli ang pork barrel? Siyempre hindi,” he said.

Lacson also said that the Senate should not be blamed for the delays in passing the 2019 budget.