MANILA – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday slammed claims made by a "small group" at the House of Representatives which he said continues to tackle amendments to the proposed PHP4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 after it was approved on third and final reading last week.
In a statement, Lacson said that the Constitution has clear provisions on until when Congress may introduce amendments to the budget bill.
"Article VI, Section 26, Paragraph 2 of the 1987 Constitution is unequivocally clear, regardless of where the amendments will come from. Wala namang sinasabi ang Constitution na pag naghahabol ng "errata," hindi ito applicable (The Constitution does not say this is not applicable when applying an errata): 'Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal'," he said.
Lacson said the claim of the House Appropriations Committee that the “errata” or 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".
"Why? The authorization part of the four-phase budget process is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress, and the executive should deal only with budget preparation and execution. No amount of technicalities and sweet-talk maneuvers can correct a flawed budget that is supposed to address the problems and concerns of more than 100 million Filipinos. It is time that we correct the mindset of the so-called representatives of the people in this regard," Lacson said.
On Friday, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 7727 or the 2021 General Appropriations Bill with 267 affirmative votes, 6 negative votes, and no abstention.
The House gave its green light to the 2021 GAB after holding a special session from Oct. 13 to 16, as called upon by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Delays have earlier affected deliberations on the proposed national budget in the lower house due to the leadership tussle between former speaker, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and his successor, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco. (PNA)