The President’s message is clear: we cannot delay the passage of the National Budget.
The proposed National Budget has already been approved on second reading in the House of Representatives. The Senate Finance Committee is also presently deliberating on the National Expenditure Program, which deliberations have been simultaneous with the deliberations of the House. This practice is nothing new, as this has been done in previous years to avoid unduly crunching budget deliberations in the Senate. Moreover, this has already been settled in the case of Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance, where it was ruled that the Constitution does not prohibit the Senate from acting on a proposed legislative measure “in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from the House.”
Having said this, we are confident that the Senate has enough time to finish its deliberations and there should be no reason for delay. There is plenty of time between now and November 16 for committee deliberations to continue and come November there will be enough time for plenary deliberations in the Senate.