Congress eyes passing 2022 budget on December 21: Senate President

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2021 06:07 PM

MANILA - Congressional leaders will likely pass the 2022 national budget into law on December 21, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday, as budget deliberations had to be suspended after a Cabinet member tested positive for COVID-19.

Budget proceedings in the Senate were halted for 4 days as senators and staffers who came in contact with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, had to go on quarantine.

"A 4-day delay is not too bad considering we were supposed to end budget approval and all by the first week of December," Sotto said in a virtual press conference.

"Ang break namin is supposed to be December 16 pero hindi naman tayo tali. We will try December 21 signing of the congressional leaders," he said. 

(Our break is supposed to be on December 16 but we are not tied to that.)

The chamber has yet to finalize deliberations on the budgets of the following agencies:
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
- Department of Transportation (DOTr)
- Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
- Department of Education (DepEd)
- Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
- Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)
- State Universities and Colleges (SUCs)

Tackling the budget for the DTI, DepEd, and SUCs would not take long, Sotto said.

The Congress will pass the 2022 budget before the current spending measure lapses into law by year-end, he said.

"We will have to try Monday, to finish everything, but if we do have to extend until Tuesday, what we would need would be double time work by the LBRMO," the Senate President said, referring to the Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO).

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said there was no doubt that Sotto would work to avoid having a reenacted budget next year.

"Ito 'yung huling budget deliberation naming dalawa bilang mga senador," Lacson said.

(This is our last budget deliberation as senators.)

"Walang kaduda-duda na matatapos 'yung budget under his leadership," he said.

(I have no doubt that we will finish the budget under his leadership.)

Lacson and Sotto have formed a tandem to vie for president and vice president, respectively, in the 2022 national elections.

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