MANILA, Philippines, November 25 ------ The Senate is aiming to pass the proposed P5.24-trillion national budget for 2022 after ending its plenary deliberations on the measure before midnight Tuesday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said yesterday. “By Dec. 1, hopefully, as far as the Senate is concerned,” Sotto told CNN Philippines when asked when he aims to pass the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which is being proposed by Malacañang 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 GAB until early next week before approving the same. To save time, senators are allowed to submit their proposed amendments instead of reciting them on the floor during 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.
When ratified, the final draft of the budget is sent to President Duterte for signature. “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.