MANILA - It is unlawful to amend the national budget after it is passed on third and final reading, Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said, after the chamber reportedly planned to insert amendments during the printing of the spending bill.
The House had committed to pass the P4.5-trillion 2021 budget on final reading on October 16, but senators received information that the printed copy of the spending bill would only be sent to the Senate on November 5 as lawmakers eyed more amendments post-plenary proceedings.
"House leaders should be reminded of the constitutional provision that prohibits further amendments on any legislative bill after approval on third and final reading," Lacson said in a statement.
"Are they planning to violate the Constitution, so that, while fulfilling their promise to the President to finally approve the measure on the last day of special session or today, they can still make insertions in the finally approved version of the budget measure?" he said.
The House was supposed to finish budget deliberation by mid-October, but proceedings were delayed after a power struggle for the Speakership.
Senators have been urging new House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to transmit the spending bill to the Senate within the month as the Senate needs about 4 weeks to scrutinize and remove illegal insertions in the budget.
"Give or take, it takes one week to print, November 5 is far off from October 16," Lacson said.
While the "budget calendar will be very tight for the Senate," as the current spending measure expires before the New Year, Lacson said the Senate will not "simply adopt the House version."
"[It] will not happen," he said.