President Duterte calls Congress for special session on 2021 budget

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday called for a special session of Congress to ensure the timely passage of the proposed PHP4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

In Proclamation 1027, Duterte called Congress to a special session on October 13 to 16 to “resume the congressional deliberations on the proposed 2021 national budget and to avoid any further delays on the prompt passage thereof in accordance with the Constitution and applicable laws, rules, and regulations”.

This came after the President on Thursday urged the House of Representatives to resolve the leadership tussle between speakership rivals, incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and pass the 2021 national budget legally and constitutionally.

Some senators warned that the move of Cayetano and his allies to abruptly suspend its session at the House of Representatives would guarantee a reenacted national budget for 2021, which would be a blow to the government’s financial capacity to address the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Duterte brokered a term-sharing agreement in 2019, under which, Cayetano would serve as the Speaker until October 2020 while Velasco would supposedly take over and assume the position until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.

However, Duterte said he no longer wanted to be in between the tug-of-war taking place between his two allies if it would not mean putting the proposed 2021 budget in jeopardy.

Cayetano has vowed that the House of Representatives will expedite the passage of the PHP4.5-trillion 2021 national budget.

“We take the President’s stern admonition to heart and we assure the public that we share his concern for the welfare of our people,” Cayetano said. “Thank you Mr. President because Congress can now continue to deliberate on the budget without the specter of politics and intrigue hounding us”.

Cayetano gave a timeline and said the House will submit the printed budget to the Senate on November 5.

He said this would allow the senators to proceed with their own hearings and prepare the way for the formal transmittal of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill on November 16 when the House is expected to approve it on third and final reading. PNA.GOV.PH