Senate ratifies bicam report on budget

December 11, 2019

THE P4.1 trillion proposed national budget for 2020 has come one step closer to becoming a law, after the Senate yesterday ratified the bicameral report.

“House Bill 4428 bicameral conference committee report is hereby adopted,” said Senate President Vicente Sotto III after Senator Sonny Angara supported by Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri moved for the adoption of the bill which was signed and approved by the bicam panels of the House of Representatives and Senate yesterday morning at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City.

The bicam panels both of the House of Representatives and Senate held their final meeting at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City to approve the final version of the 2020 proposed national budget.

Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said that they will send the final version of the budget bill to President Duterte for his signature.

The bicam was supposed to approve the budget bill last Monday but senators asked to re-schedule it twice to give them more time to study the proposed national budget.

Also present during the signing were 12 of the 14 other senators who formed the Senate bicam panel, including Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, Imee Marcos, Francis Pangilinan, Richard Gordon, Christopher Go, Cynthia Villar, Ralph Recto, Grace Poe , Joel Villanueva,  Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Franklin Drilon.

Senators Pia Cayetano and Panfilo Lacson did not make it to the signing.

Angara said almost all senators introduced amendments to the budget bill which were later reconciled with the House version of the budget.

He said they expect the budget bill to be signed by the President before Christmas day.

Earlier Wednesday, Lacson said that the House of Representatives made last-minute insertions in the P4.1trillion 2020 proposed national budget before it was signed and approved by the bicameral conference committee.

Lacson learned of the insertions from a report made by a number of members of the House which was sent through the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office Tuesday night.

He said the report was contained in a USB drive which contained two files – the “source” file and the “list” file.

He said that at the Senate’s first scrutiny of the insertions made by the House “would indicate that the Source File is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219 billion” which was apparently used as the congressmen’s “source” of their “list” of 742 projects worth P16.345 billion “that were inserted in the bicam report that was signed by both panels this morning (Wednesday).”

“Since there is no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the two files, we cannot ascertain if indeed only P16.345B or the bigger amount of P83.219B was inserted at the last minute prior to the bicam signing,” he said.