MANILA The Senate is set to pass the proposed PHP3.757-trillion 2019 national budget on Monday so it can reach President Rodrigo Duterte's table by first week of February, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.
In an ambush interview, Sotto said senators would first finalize the amendments to the budget before they vote for the approval of the bill.
He said the bicameral conference committee meeting could be convened by Tuesday.
The amendments were submitted over the last four days. Of course, there were amendments that were already being proposed weeks ago pero i-pa-finalize lahat mamaya (but everything will be finalized later), Sotto said.
And then right after that approve na namin on second and third reading para pwede ng i-convene yung bicam either tonight or tomorrow (And then right after that, we will approve it on second and third reading so that we could convene the bicam either tonight or tomorrow), he added.
With President Duterte's certification of urgency, the Senate could already forego the three-day rule and pass the budget bill on second and third reading within the same day.
The Senate has already terminated the period of interpellations on the 2019 national budget last week.
A contentious issue in the 2019 national budget is the alleged PHP75 billion insertion into the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) without the agency's knowledge. The Senate moved for its deletion.
Sotto said the PHP75 billion deleted DPWH funds may be realigned or chopped up for other government projects.
It was earlier proposed that the insertion could fund the health facilities enhancement program, or even the potential government takeover of the bankrupt Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency