Senator Sonny Angara assured that Congress has ample time in its legislative calendar to approve the bill seeking to extend the validity of certain items of the 2019 national budget.
“There’s a lot of time. I don’t think there’s a reason to worry because we have about seven to eight weeks before the end of the year. Maipapasa natin yan (We can pass it),” Angara said.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance made the assurance following concerns that Congress would have its hands full in passing next year’s proposed PHP4.1 trillion national budget.
“But for this particular measure, the Senate will be able to find a way to accommodate this because of its urgency and importance,” Angara said.
The lawmaker was referring to Senate Bill 1153 that he filed last week, amending for the purpose Section 65 of Republic Act 11260, or the General Appropriations Act of 2019.
Once enacted, the measure would extend the availability of the funds for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlays (CO) under the 2019 budget until December 31, 2020.
Angara was supposed to sponsor Senate Joint Resolution No. 9 to that effect but filed the bill in light of a Supreme Court ruling on the case filed by the Ang Nars Party-list group regarding the upward adjustment in the salary grade for entry-level nurses.
He said part of the SC decision states that “a joint resolution cannot amend a law.”
This is contrary to past practices of Congress wherein a joint resolution passed on final reading by both Chambers is sufficient to amend certain provisions of a law.
“Ayaw natin ma-technical tayo (We don’t want to fail on a technicality) on the basis of that decision,” Angara said.
Angara said the Senate will first have to wait for the House of Representatives to approve its own version of the bill before senators can act on SB 1153.
The House version, House Bill 5437, has been approved on second reading Tuesday. (PNA)