Senator Panfilo Lacson is looking into the possibility for the Senate to simply adopt the version of the 2020 budget bill approved by the House of Representatives to fast-track its enactment and to prevent congressmen from making further amendments.
In a Dobol B sa News TV interview on Sunday, Lacson said he already took this proposal up to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who both are already considering the suggestion.
Lacson said he sees nothing irregular so far in the House-approved General Appropriations Bill, as the only changes he saw there are the P9.5-billion institutional amendments that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano announced before transmitting the bill to the Senate.
He noticed, however, there are "unclear" items in the National Expenditure Program that cannot be considered "pork" allocations worth P20 billion as these were vetted by executive departments themselves.
"Kung wala namang maraming issues at pwedeng patawarin yung P20 billion at pwede nang ipaubaya sa DBM kung paano mai-realign, ang pinakamagandang gawin, dahil sa nakita namin na P9.5 billion lang na institutional amendments, baka mas magandang gawin namin i-adopt nalang yung House version," he said.
"Kapag ganun, nganga yung mga may hawak na amendments para sa bicam. Kasi siyempre wala nang bicam kapag in-adopt namin yung House version," he added.
Lacson said senators have to keep an eye during the bicameral conference committee deliberations on the budget, as this is where congressmen could make their individual amendments.
"Kung totoo man na may kanya-kanya silang hawak o naisumite na sa appropriate chairman nila yung listahan ng mga gustong proyekto ng mga kongresista, malamang sa hindi, sa bicameral conference nila yun ilalatag o ipapasok," he said.
"Yun ang delikado at yun ang kailangang bantayan ng Senado, at least yung magiging members ng bicam," he added.
Lacson said congressmen must disclose to the public whether they would still make amendments to the budget during the bicameral conference committee.
"In the spirit of transparency, mas mainam na ipakita nila sa publiko, ia-announce na nila, ito yung aming mga individual amendments pa na hindi naisama doon sa third and final reading at nai-transmit na kopya sa Senado, para sa ganun maaral na rin namin para pagharap namin sa bicam, preparado kami," he said.
The Senate is expected to hold its plenary deliberations on the 2020 national budget by the second week of November.
The House earlier targeted December 20 this year as the date of signing by President Rodrigo the proposed 2020 budget. —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA News