The House of Representatives finally passed the supplemental budget of the Commission on Elections to provide funds for the automation of the 2010 elections paving the way for Senate deliberations on the budget bill.
The P11.3 billion budget was passed by the lower House on third and final reading with 193 voting in favor. There was one abstention and one negative vote.
The passage of the bill paves the way for the measure to be deliberated by the Senate.
However, with just a few days left before Congress goes on recess, the Senate would be hard put in passing the bill.
Congress is set to adjourn March 7 and will resume its session on April 13.
Sen. Joker Arroyo on Sunday already cast doubt on the Senate's immediate passage of the proposed measure.
"Hindi kaya kasi magkakaroon ng public hearing. Hindi naman pwedeng ipasa 'yong bill ng walang public hearing,” said Arroyo.
Speaker Prospero Nograles Jr. on Monday said he hopes the Senate would immediately act on the bill.
"I cannot speak for the Senate, but if our senators share our resolve to make automation of elections an authentic means to ensure honest, fraud-free elections that genuinely expresses the people's will, then they will act with dispatch on the bill,” said Nograles in a text message.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, meanwhile, said Senate finance committee chair Sen. Edgardo Angara is already awaiting the transmittal of the proposed budget measure to the Senate and will conduct a hearing so it can be reported to the Senate plenary.
Zubiri, in an interview, said the Senate may place the proposed measure for plenary debate Tuesday night so it can be immediately approved.
Zubiri said if the lower chamber of Congress did not insert provisions for partial automation, they may be able to approve it Tuesday. He said the Senate is against partial automation.
Zubiri added that if there is a conflicting provision, they can ask for a special session of Congress either next week or before Holy Week even just for one day to pass the measure. With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News