House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano assured on Wednesday the timely approval of the 2021 national budget despite the early suspension of the chamber’s session on Tuesday.

The break at the House will last until November 16.

“We will be working, we will not be taking a break and on November 16, we will be voting on third reading. Before that, meron nang consent nung mga majority ng kongresista dahil ipapakita ko sa kanila isa-isa at yung budget (there would be consent from the majority of Congressmen as I will show the to each of them the budget),” Cayetano said in a Facebook video.

From the Palace, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said they do not see a delay in the approval of the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 despite suspension of House sessions.

In an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source, Roque even thanked the lower chamber’s “speedy” passage of the budget bill on second reading as it brings the measure a step closer to its third and final approval.

“We thank the House for its speedy action in passing the [budget],” he said.

Roque, a former lawmaker, said he does not see any delay since the budget bill has been passed on second reading and passing a proposed law on third and final reading is “ceremonial”.

“I don’t think it will have any effect on passing the budget on time because they passed it on second reading. It’s for all intention and purposes approved,” he said.

Cayetano said the House will be working on the amendments for GAB during the break, which will allow the chamber to present the proposed budget for third and final reading on November 16.

Roque said that once the House approves makes a third reading on the GAB, it is already as good as approved.

“On third and final reading, you can no longer move for amendments. That’s already the final version of the House bill. It’s either you vote for or against the measure and now we’re expecting of course that as soon as it is printed and brought to the floor for the third reading, that all the administration parties, all those supporters of the President will cast a yes vote,” he added.

According to Roque, there is a “time lag” between the passage on second and third reading because the budget bill would still have to be printed.

“There really is a need for time because they will have to print the final version of the proposed law before they could approve it on third and final reading. So it is always the case that there is a time lag between the approval on second reading of the budget and the third reading because you’re talking about three volumes of very large books to be printed by the House,” he said.

Since the House has already commenced its deliberation on the budget bill, he said the Senate can also act on the budget already.

“What is important is that the House has already commenced its deliberation on the budget, meaning the Senate can also act on the budget already because there is no requirement that the Senate must wait for the approval on third and final reading. It is enough that the budget has originated from the House,” he said. 

The 2021 proposed budget of P4.5 trillion is about P450 billion higher than the P4.1-trillion outlay for this year. 

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