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Senate passes 2021 national budget

THE Senate, voting 22-0, has approved on final reading its version of the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

The approval is consistent with the timeline it has set to ensure that the bill gets President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature before the year ends.

“Nananatili pa rin po ang adhikain natin: Na ang pambansang budget ay budget ng pagbangon at pinaka-istratehiya natin mula sa bigat at hirap ng nakaraang taon (2020),” Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a speech.

Angara thanked the leadership and his colleagues in the Senate for being able to scrutinize the budget bill and stay on schedule towards its timely enactment despite serious challenges including typhoons, floods, power outages, connectivity problems, and the existing global pandemic.

Angara also acknowledged the amendments introduced by his colleagues to the budget bill, which will, among others, strengthen the COVID-19 response, provide assistance to victims of calamities and resuscitate the economy.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva congratulated Angara and his colleagues for their efforts to pass the proposed budget.

“This is just to commend and congratulate our good friend, our seatmate and our brother, the hardworking chairperson of the committee on Finance, Sen. Sonny Angara, for his dauntless efforts to pass the budget on time and walk the extra mile in sacrificing for the betterment of our people. Congratulations to the entire institution,” Villanueva said.

Following the approval in the Senate, the two houses will convene as a bicameral conference committee to reconcile their versions of the budget bill.

The bicameral conference committee meeting is expected to start on Saturday and, should it run smoothly, a bicameral report may be signed and approved by lawmakers on December 9.

The enrolled budget bill would then be submitted to Malacañang on December 16 for the President’s signature.

House hails Senate

The House of Representatives and Velasco welcomed the timely passage by the Senate of the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

“We now look forward to sitting with our Senate counterparts in conference possibly starting next week to come up with a common version of the budget,” Velasco said.

The House contingent will make sure there will be enough funds for the government’s COVID-19 response, especially the procurement of vaccines for an initial 20 million poor Filipinos and eventually for at least 60 million of the population.

“We also want to ensure sufficient funding for the rehabilitation and recovery of communities devastated by recent typhoons, including Rolly and Ulysses. We should help our people rebuild their lives,” the Speaker added.

With Jester P. Manalastas