Tue. May 11th, 2021

The General Appropriations Bill (GAB) will possibly face tough scrutiny in the Senate after Senator Panfilo Lacson raised the issue of revisions made on the GAB right after it was approved by the lower chamber on Friday.

He even said there were violations on how the GAB was drafted, which could place the current House leadership under fire.

“Ang daming violation nitong 2021 (There were a lot of violation this year),” Lacson said in an interview aired over CNN Philippines.

The senator also criticized the small committee made up of members picked by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco that introduced changes to the GAB right after it was approved by the lower chamber. The GAB contains the P4.56-trillion budget for 2021.

“It is not a matter of being acceptable to the senators or not. It’s a matter of the Constitution prohibiting it. Section 26 of the Constitution is very clear. No amendments shall be allowed after the final reading of any bill,” Lacson said.

“In the meantime, we will have to live with that and tackle the budget measure in the Senate once it is transmitted to us, whether soft copy or hard copy. They promised to send us the USB drive, the soft copy, by October 28, and we will have enough time to look into it,” the senator further said.

It was on Monday that Lacsonwarned the leadership of the House of changes made to the approved version of the 2021 P4.56-trillion budget, saying it violated the Constitution.

Specifically, Lacson warned Rep. Eric Yap, House appropriations panel chair, who said on Saturday that any amendments introduced to the approved 2021 budget were initiated by concerned government agencies.

 “(Yap’s claim) that the ‘errata,’ aka amendments, will come from the implementing agencies and not from the individual House members will further muddle an already constitutionally infirm and error-filled budget measure,” he said.

Yap, however, insists any changes made were agency-related and that no revisions were made for pork barrel.

“These are all agency-initiated. Which is what I always emphasize because we keep getting beaten up in Congress. We’re always accused of inserting pork. I did not allow any congressman to insert pork,” the Congressman said.

“All these errata are all from agencies. Nothing came from a congressman,” Yap said.

Before he was ousted as House Speaker, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano challenged Velasco to properly pass the proposed budget the proper way, and be proud about about the budget itself. (sovereignph.com)

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