Senator Francis Pangilinan said Sunday the House of Representatives cannot introduce amendments to the P4.5 trillion 2021 budget through “errata” after approving it on third and final reading, saying this was inconsistent with the process of legislation.
In a radio interview, Pangilinan said this position was already manifested on the floor of the Senate last week.
Pangilinan was reacting to statements by House appropriations committee chairman Eric Yap that amendments will be made to the 2021 general appropriations bill that the House approved on Friday before it will be submitted to the Senate on Oct. 28.
Pangilinan said that if the House has corrections or interventions, congressmen can present them during the bicameral conference committee, especially if the amounts are significant.
He added that the House plan to introduce amendments to its version of the budget could lead to questions regarding its legality.
The senator recalled that some parts of the 2019 budget were vetoed due to questionable insertions amounting to P95 billion meant for infrastructure projects.
“It can happen again so the Senate is standing firm that after the third reading, they can no longer correct it,” he said.
Pangilinan also warned that the late amendments might lead to delays that could result in a reenacted budget for next year.
Yap on Sunday said only government departments and agencies, and not lawmakers themselves, could make amendments to the budget bill, which was passed on third and final reading on Oct. 16.
Interviewed over Dobol B sa News TV, Yap said he prevented any members of the House of Representatives from making amendments to the budget bill.
“All the errata will come from the agencies. None of them will come from the congressmen,” he said in Filipino.
A small committee was created to accept proposed amendments from government agencies.
Yap said they would submit a soft copy of the budget bill to the Senate and National Printing Office for printing on Oct. 28.
He said no amendments may be accepted after the third reading approval of a measure.
“This is a special case because the budget was certified as urgent,” Yap said. “Because it was urgent, it was approved on second and third reading on the same day, and then you will form a small group to look at the amendments of the agencies.”
“Friday was the deadline for submission by the agencies, but there were some who did not submit them. The way we see it, we can give them the leeway and give them additional time until Monday to submit these amendments,” he added.
Lawmakers said they believed the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez was off to a good start with the four-day special session that saw the passage of the national budget and a bill granting anti-red tape powers to the President.
"The performance of the new leadership during the special session was very commendable. This is a very encouraging sign in our mission to approve the legislative agenda of President Duterte. The Velasco-Romualdez leadership has got off to a good start,” said Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
Bulacan’s San Jose del Monte City Rep. Florida Robes said she is “extremely delighted that the leadership impasse in the House of Representatives had been resolved peacefully and amicably.”
“I look forward to a renewed, more united and inclusive leadership at the House of Representatives,” she said.