Wed. Dec 2nd, 2020

Barely a week after he assumed post as House Speaker, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco may find himself in trouble with the Senate due to an approved budget bill that had revisions worth around P20 billion.

This developed as Malacanang on Tuesday said it would take the side of senators on the issue that House members should not make changes to a budget measure that has been approved on third and final reading.

Also, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said changes to the approved General Appropriations Bill (GAB should only be for typographical errors.

“As a finding of fact, kinakailangan ma-establish na iyong errata really refers to a typographical error. Pero kung ito po ay additional items, then I would share the view of the senators kasi kapag third and final reading eh wala na po dapat pagbabago iyan (There is a need to establish if the changes are typographical errors. However, if these are additional items, I would share the view of senators because after third and final reading, there should be no changes to be made),” Roque, a former lawmaker, said.

He added President Rodrigo Duterte has the power to veto changes made to the GAB, which stipulates a P4.56-trillion budget for 2021. This year’s approved allocation is P4.1 trillion.

It was Senator Panfilo Lacson who raised the issue of amendments made to the approved GAB by a small committee made up of House members handpicked by Velasco. 

“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 earlier.

He said the Senate will have enough time to look into the GAB once it is transmitted to them by the House on or before October 28. Durterte has certified as urgent the passage of the P4.56-trillion budget for 2021.

“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 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 to the GAB were agency-related and that no revisions were made for pork barrel. (sovereignph.com)

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