MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Congress on Tuesday adjourned deliberations on the P4.5-trillion General Appropriations Act in less than an hour, fast-tracking the approval of the sum that would fund the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and other pandemic response plans of the government next year.
Lawmakers ended the meeting in a hotel in Makati in about 20 minutes after agreeing to allow the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Finance chairpersons to iron out different amendments in the spending bill, according to the Office of Sen. Sonny Angara.
At least 12 lawmakers physically attended the meeting, while other members of the Senate and House panels were allowed to participate through video conferencing.
"Short naman usually 'yung formal bicam," Senate Committee on Finance chairman Sonny Angara told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
(The former bicam is usually short.)
"Last year we took a little over a week to resolve the conflicting provisions," he said.
This tradition is done to expedite proceedings, Sen. Joel Villanueva told ABS-CBN News.
"Can you imagine if every single member would talk and argue," he said.
"The 2 chairs will trim it down as much as they can, that’s for sure," he said.
Congress eyes to ratify the 2021 General Appropriations Act next week before submitting it for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature by mid-December, he said.