‘Palace-Senate row won’t delay budget bill’


MALACAÑANG is confident chances of having a reenacted national budget next year are slim, despite the ongoing word war between President Duterte and some senators.

In a virtual media forum on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said they expect that lawmakers themselves will push for the timely passage of the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) given the upcoming elections.

He noted the GAA will provide for the needed “resources” of many reelectionist politicians for their campaign needs next year.

“Let’s face it. They have personal stakes in that budget. And they would have to pass it because they need the resources,” Roque said.

“And I want you to read between the lines. So the first people who want to see it [2022 GAA] passed will be the senators,” he added.

He think lawmakers are also unlikely to delay the passage of the 2022 GAA, which could result in public condemnation since it will affect the government’s Covid-19 response.

“I don’t think Congress can take adverse public opinion if they resort to politicking as an excuse not to pass a Covid-related budget,” Roque said.

“If they are not able to pass it on time the fault will lie [with] Congress and not [with] the President,” he added.

Last Tuesday, Duterte threatened to stall the approval of the 2022 GAA.

This after some senators allegedly threatened to reduce to zero the budget of agencies of Cabinet officials who snub hearings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the multibillion-peso purchases of medical supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

“Will your money reach you if it will not go through me? What if I don’t release it? Tit for tat,” Duterte said, openly addressing the senators.

The House of Representatives earlier passed their version of the 2022 GAA, and senators are now holding budget hearings during the recess to fast-track the process.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III earlier said they are eyeing to finalize their version of the legislation by November.

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