Senate: Bicam on nat’l budget open to the public

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Dec 5 (PNA) — The Senate announced Thursday that the scheduled Bicameral Committee Conference on the national budget for 2014 on Tuesday (Dec 10) will be opened to the public.

Sen. Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, confirmed this via Twitter and added that the Bicam, which will start at 9 am, will be held at the Recto room of the Senate.

“I have already announced a month ago that the (2014 national) budget bicam will be opened to the public,” Escudero said via Twitter.

“Whoever is interested, we also have live streaming as we did in the committee hearings and plenary debates, if anyone is interested to watch and listen,” he added.

While the Senate approved of the 2014 national budget on Nov. 26, the House of Representatives passed theirs earlier, Oct 22. The bicam will be done to fuse both versions together.

Escudero earlier disclosed that there would no need for a bicam if the House agreed to the amendments of the Senate.

“We made minor amendments to the bill in so far as reportorial, transparency and accountability provisions are concerned,” Escudero said in a past interview.

“I hope and I expect that they will not object to that and if they don’t, they can adopt the Senate version sans a bicameral conference committee.”

Senate President Frankin Drilon has meanwhile expressed his support for an open bicam, saying that when he was former Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he would regularly consult with private citizens himself.

“I support the call for transparency in the bicam,” Drilon said via Twitter. “Our budget process/debates are already open to the public. I have no problem with it.” (PNA)