Senate to discuss national budget, tax reform in November

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — The Senate will take up the proposed 2018 budget and tax reform bills when it resumes session next month.

The 2018 General Appropriations Bill and Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Bill are pending approval on second reading and will be taken up when sessions resume on Nov. 13. Congress is on break beginning Thursday.

The Senate approved the proposed P693-million budget of the Commission on Human Rights. The House of Representatives had reduced this to only P1,000 but eventually restored the fund but with a lower amount.

Also approved was the P10-billion rehabilitation fund for Marawi City.

Senators will question some aspects of the TRAIN, a priority bill of the administration. It proposes a lower personal income tax but raises taxes on fuel, new cars, and sugar-sweetened beverage.

However, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon warned these bill might take a backseat to a possible impeachment trial of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista.

The House of Representatives impeached Bautista on Wednesday, hours after the chairman announced his resignation by year-end.

Related: Delayed resignation forced impeach vote - Umali

Drilon said the Constitution requires the Senate to immediately convene as a trial court.

"Our calendar is too tight and the impeachment case will eat up a lot of our time when we resume session in November," Drilon said in a statement.

"Legislative work will be seriously affected and that is a matter that the leadership should highly consider," he added.

Bautista announced he will not rush his resignation to give time for President Rodrigo Duterte to find his replacement.

Related: Comelec Chief refuses to resign immediately despite impeachment

Bautista faces allegations of corruption raised by his estranged wife Patricia. He denied her claims and accused her of going after his money.