Although the four-day special session of the Congress from October 13 to 16, 2020 called by President Rodrigo Duterte is welcome as it is needed to resume consideration of the national budget, the short period may not be sufficient to assure the approval on second and third readings of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (HB No. 7727).
An additional period of four (4) days from October 19 to 22, 2020 is necessary in order that the committee and individual amendments to the appropriation measure can be considered and approved by Plenary before second reading.
More time is required so that the bill for approval on second reading already includes the committee and individual amendments which should be proposed and approved in Plenary session.
The long tradition of a “small committee” effecting the amendments after the approval of the budget bill on second reading should be abandoned in order to assure transparency in the proceedings which is not achieved by the furtive conclave of the small panel.
Consequently, there is need for the President to amend his call to accommodate four (4) more session days or for the Senate and the House to amend the legislative calendar.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN