'Apology accepted': Sotto says Cayetano 'promised' to submit 2021 budget copies on Nov 5


Posted at Oct 08 2020 04:35 PM

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III speaks to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano before the 5th State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Batasang Pambansa on July 27, 2020. Photo by the Office of the Senate President

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday accepted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's apology after the House leader said senators should be blamed should Congress fail to pass the 2021 budget on time.

Cayetano, in a Facebook live video, said sorry to senators, saying it was not his intention to pin the blame on the Senate.

"Accepted... Nag-apologize na. Best effort na lang kami," Sotto told reporters in a text message when asked for a reaction.

Cayetano issued the apology after Sotto told reporters that the House was using the Senate as a "scapegoat" after the chamber drew flak for allowing power struggles to affect budget deliberations.

Aside from the public apology, Cayetano also called, the Senate President said.

"He promised to submit by November 5 their proposed copies of the different budget books... which they will approve on third reading," Sotto said.

"I said we will do our best to work on the time we have as the Senate always does," he said.

Worries over the possible delayed approval of the 2021 budget surfaced earlier this week after Cayetano abruptly suspended session, days before he was supposed to hand over House leadership to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco. 

President Rodrigo Duterte had brokered a "gentleman's agreement" for Cayetano to serve as Speaker until this month and be replaced by Velasco, the President's PDP-Laban party-mate.

Cayetano claimed that budget deliberations would only be delayed by one day, but senators said the discussions on the spending bill may be stalled by a month.

Under the law, Congress needs to pass the spending bill before it expires on December 31, otherwise, the government would be forced to use a reenacted budget that does not contain allocations for COVID-19 response programs.