MANILA - The Senate will try to approve the 2019 National Budget before it goes on recess on Dec. 14, Senate Majority Floor Leader Miguel Zubiri said on Thursday.
Zubiri said they will hold sessions on the Budget Bill from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to try to pass it before senators go on a Christmas break.
This comes a day after Zubiri met with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno who asked lawmakers to rush the budget process to avoid a reenacted budget next year.
“We are working double time to pass the budget before we go on break precisely to address the problem of Secretary (Diokno) that he raised yesterday, on the salary increases of the men and women in uniform, both PNP and AFP pati retirees,” Zubiri said.
Under the new Senate schedule, all committee investigations will be suspended starting Dec. 4 for the budget hearings and debates which will last until Dec. 12.
The Senate’s target for ratification is Dec. 13, the last day of session for this year, said Zubiri.
Zubiri added that while the budget hearing is ongoing, a small group of senators and congressmen will already meet for a "pre-bicam."
"Para pagdating ng full-blown bicam isang araw na lang. Pagka ganun, kaya naming tapusin bago mag-13 ng December in terms of ratifying it,” he said.
(So that during the full bicam will take just 1 day. This means we can finish this before Dec. 13 in terms of ratifying it.)
Despite the rush, every senator who wants to scrutinize the budget, like Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Risa Hontiveros, will still be given time, according to Zubiri.
Congress has already passed the proposed P3.757 trillion 2019 budget.
Economic managers have said that a delay in the approval of the budget will also cause delays in the government's infrastructure projects.