THE passage of the 2017 national budget will be the top priority legislation of the Senate when it resumes session tomorrow.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said that uppermost on their agenda is the timely passage of the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) or the P3.35 trillion national budget.
He said the Senate plans to pass its version of the bill on third and final reading “in the last week of November” to ensure that the national budget, dubbed the “budget for real change,” will be enacted into law before the year ends.
Also a priority is the granting of emergency powers to President Duterte to address the traffic crisis.
“We will exert our best efforts to timely conduct our hearings and ensure the early passage of this most important piece of legislation,” Pimentel said.
The 2017 GAA is 11.6 percent higher than the P3.002 trillion national budget this year, of which 40 percent (estimated at P1.345 trillion) has been earmarked for social services such as education, culture, health, social security, housing, land distribution, among others.
Earlier, Pimentel said the Senate was closely coordinating with the House of Representatives, which passed its version of the bill last October 17, 2016, to ensure that the budget will be enacted into law as scheduled.
Pimentel said the Senate would also tackle the bill that seeks to grant emergency powers to the President to allow him to address traffic congestion in Metro Manila and other urban areas.
The measure seeks to designate the Transportation secretary as the Traffic Crisis Manager who will exercise overall land, air and sea traffic management and control.
Other pending priority legislation that the Senate will work on include the proposed bill on ending “endo” or labor contractualization, the SIM Card Registration Act, Amendments to the Bank Secrecy Law and the bill adjusting the indexation of income tax rates.