Lacson supports Duterte intervention in House row

SENATOR Panfilo Lacson on Friday, October 9, 2020, stressed that the Senate could not accept and deliberate on the proposed national budget for 2021 if it is not approved on third and final reading yet by the House of Representatives.

He said it is only right for President Rodrigo Duterte to step in and take action if there is a delay in the approval of the national budget for 2021.

"It is the President's option to do whatever is necessary, even taking a 'direct' hand in resolving the Speakership issue, with the timely passage of the 2021 national budget as his only consideration. After all, anything that has to do with national interest should involve the President," Lacson said in a statement.

"This is one credit I would give to the President. As the leader of the coalition of political parties in the House of Representatives, I don't think there is impropriety if he steps in to resolve the impasse between conflicting groups that are both his allies anyway. A few calls to the leaders of those coalitions can simplify matters," he went on.

In a recorded message Thursday evening, Duterte appealed for the members of the House to resolve the speakership row and approve the budget bill, or House Bill 7727.

He warned that if Congress fails, he will "solve the problem" for them.

Lacson said it would be impossible for the Senate to deliberate on a bill that was approved only on second reading.

"How can the Senate accept a printed copy of an unapproved House version of the budget bill, as proposed by Speaker Cayetano? We can only file a committee report once the General Appropriations Bill is transmitted to us after it has been approved on third and final reading," Lacson said.

"Why do they have to wait for November 16 to approve the budget on third and final reading? I can't understand any of this," he added.

Lacson was reacting to the statement of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that the House will send a printed copy of the bill to the Senate on November 5.

Cayetano said the House will transmit the approved copy of the bill as soon as it is approved on third and final reading when session resumes on November 16.

The senator said it is the Senate's priority to pass the national budget on time.

"This includes scrutinizing the budget bill to make sure huge sums are not lost to incompetence or greed," he said.

The Senate is allowed to deliberate on the national budget in plenary only after the House approves it on third and final reading.

Both chambers of congress will convene for a bicameral conference if the Senate's final version of the bill has conflicting provisions with that of the House.

The final enrolled form is submitted to Malacañang. The President either signs the bill into law, or vetoes and sends it back to Congress with a veto message. (SunStar Philippines)

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