No problem Senate to pass P5.02-T 2022 budget early December photo Philippine Stat
Philippine Economy

No problem: Senate to pass P5.02-T 2022 budget early December

Nov 25, 2021, 5:38 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

The proposed 2022 budget of P5.024 trillion is expected to be passed by the Senate on third and final reading by early December submit it to bicameral conference committee, after which it will be sent to President Duterte for signing.

BARRING any major changes, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Upper Chamber is eyeing the passage of the proposed P5.024 trillion 2022 budget in early December, which is being proposed by Malacanang as vital to the economy’s rebound from the pandemic.

After finishing deliberations, the Senate goes to the period of amendments where senators would put in their changes to the General Appropriations Bill until early next week before approving the same, the Star reported.

To save time, senators are allowed to submit their proposed amendments instead of reciting them on the floor during session.

One session

Being a certified urgent measure, the spending proposal is expected to be passed on second reading and third and final reading in just one session.

After the approval, the Senate and House of Representatives will convene the bicameral conference committee – a joint panel composed of lawmakers from both chambers – to reconcile conflicting provisions of their respective versions of the GAB.

“Our prediction is that the bicam (proceedings) will take seven to 10 days. That would mean by Dec. 10 or 11 at the most, we would be ratifying the bicameral conference committee report,” Sotto said in Filipino and English.

Once ratified, the final draft of the budget would be sent to President Duterte for signature.

For Digong’s review

“That would give the President enough time to review before Dec. 17, if he plans to sign it by Dec. 17,” Sotto said. It is only the budget bill where the president is allowed to veto specific provisions.

The lower house passed the proposed budget for 2022 on September 30 meeting its self-imposed deadline to end deliberations ahead of the filing of certificate of candidacy for next year.

A total of 238 lawmakers approved the 2022 GAB on third and final reading just minutes after the plenary passed the measure on second reading. There were 6 negative votes and no abstentions.

Eight days

The House took only eight days of plenary hearings to pass the budget bill, which angered opposition lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc who said the proposed budget – amid a mismanaged pandemic and the incoming election year – needed more scrutiny.

The swift passage was made possible by President Rodrigo Duterte, who certified the budget bill as urgent on Wednesday night, September 29.

As the House rushed its passage, the period of amendments was not thoroughly done.

Section 25, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution bars Congress from making other amendments to a bill that has already been passed on the final reading.

Unresponsive

The budget was deliberated against the backdrop of the still ongoing pandemic and the coming national and local elections.

During his turno en contra – the period in the budget deliberation where dissenting voices explain their votes – Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate described the budget as "unresponsive" to the country’s needs.

He claimed that it was instead allowed for "luxuries" in favor of the Duterte administration.

Comelec budget

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) sought a P41.992-billion budget for 2022, more than double the budget it received in 2016, the last presidential election year.

But the Duterte administration pared it to P26.497 billion when it submitted the proposed budget to Congress.

This comes as the poll body is under pressure to "COVID-proof" the 2022 polls, where at least 61 million Filipinos are already eligible to cast their ballots.

The Duterte administration proposed a P242.2-billion budget for the Department of Health (DOH).

Of that amount, P19.6 billion was allotted for COVID-19 response. The DoH said it needed at least P60 billion for health workers’ allowances and COVID 19 vaccine booster shots.

Standing out among controversial allotments is the proposed P28.1 billion budget request for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

This is P11.66 billion more than the P16.4 billion NTF-ELCAC received in 2021.

Tags: #2022GeneralAppropriationsBill, #Senate, #House, #economy


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