The Senate on Wednesday approved the 2020 budgets of the Judiciary, Commission on Audit and the Congress.
With no senators interpellating, the upper chamber approved the P40.171 billion budget for the Supreme Court, lower courts, Presidential Electoral Tribunal, Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals, and Court of Tax Appeals.
Before the budget of the Judiciary was approved, Senate President Vicente Sotto III welcomed new Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.
“We would like to welcome the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court here in the premises. He has been representing the Judiciary every year. So I did not expect him to be here because he is already the Chief Justice now, but he’s still here,” Sotto said.
Most of the time both Senate and Congress defer the scrutiny of the budget of their co-equal branch.
Also deemed submitted in the plenary are the P12.363 billion budget for the CoA and P22.77 billion budget for Congress.
The budget for the Congress includes the P7.4 billion for the Senate, P292.7 million for the Senate Electoral Tribunal, P14.05 billion for the House of Representative, P817.8 million for the Commission on Appointments, and P216.5 million for the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri manifested that the Senate will enhance its budget for the additional 2020 expenses and also for the construction of the new Senate building.
Meanwhile, Sotto vowed to finish the budget deliberations on time without compromising the necessary scrutiny of the P4.1-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
“It was submitted on time. We are right on track of our timetable without sacrificing important issues being raised in the different departments,” Sotto said in a statement.
He said the Senate is expected to finish the amendments of the budget by the last week of November and its third reading approval is seen next week.
After their approval from the plenary, Sotto said that the bicameral conference committee may convene by the first week of December hoping that it will be a venue for a healthy discussion on the provisions of the budget.
“The bicameral debates will be unpredictable. We expect healthy debates among members of the bicameral panel as they thresh out and reconcile the differences in our respective versions of the measure. We hope they will remain level-headed and open-minded during the discussions,” Sotto said.
The Senate chief reiterated that the chamber is aiming to pass a new budget law before Congress takes a break on 20 December.