Sotto: Velasco ‘promised best effort’ to submit House-OK’d budget before November

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 09:54 PM | Updated as of Oct 15 2020 10:15 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday said he reached out to House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to urge him to send the House-approved budget before November.

"I just talked to Speaker Velasco and I requested him to help facilitate the transmittal to us to the 28th of October at the most and that is 10 days after they pass it on 3rd reading," he told reporters in a text message.

"He (Velasco) promised best effort."

Sotto said the chamber could face a "pressing problem," as he earlier received word the House of Representatives would only transmit the 2021 budget next month, even if it committed to approve the spending bill this week.

"We have a more pressing problem right now. I am told by somebody from the House that they are only submitting it on November 5," Sotto told senators in plenary.

"If that's the case, we will still be delayed [in passing the 2021 budget]."

Under the law, the Senate cannot tackle budget measures in plenary unless the House sends the approved and printed copy of the bill.

"If they will pass the budget on third reading (Friday), I cannot understand why they will transmit the GAB to us on November 5," Sen. Panfilo Lacson said, referring to the General Appropriations Bill.

"Unless may plano na naman silang mag-amend after the third reading."

Under Congress rules, amendments can only be done before a legislative chamber passes a measure on second and final readings to ensure that a majority of lawmakers agree with the proposed change.

"That is exactly what they would do," Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.

"They would pass it on third reading on record, and on the process of printing they would accept amendments from the individual members."