Lagman: Bills subject to bicam are exempt from ‘no post-ratification amendments’ rule


Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Wednesday defended the changes made by the House of Representatives to the 2019 budget after its ratification by Congress, saying such amendments, contrary to senators’ assertions, were legal.

In a statement, the leader of the Magnificent 7 bloc said any House amendments made to bills passed on third reading by both the Senate and the House “are traditionally and legally authorized and do not violate the Constitution.”

Lagman acknowledged the “general rule” that once a bill is passed on last or third reading, “no amendment thereto shall be allowed pursuant to Section 26(2), Article VI of the Constitution.”

But there’s a recognized exception” to such a rule, which is when a bill is passed on third reading by both Houses of the Congress like the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) which is subject to a bicameral conference committee action, he said.

“The bicameral committee, which is known as the third chamber, can introduce amendments and/or authorize the House and Senate to effect amendments or adjustments to the GAB even after the ratification of the Bicameral Report,” Lagman said.

This practice of post-ratification adjustments is institutionalized in the Bicameral Report on the GAB itself which invariably includes the following omnibus motion:

“1. Technical Staff of the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Finance [is] are authorized to effect corrections of typographical, grammatical and printing errors, as well as the necessary adjustments as a consequence of the amendments. (Emphasis supplied).

“2. In case of conflict between the Conference Committee Report and the Printed Copy of the Bill, the latter shall prevail.”

“Consequently, the adjustments or realignments made by the House and the Senate after the ratification of the Bicameral Report are traditionally and legally authorized and do not violate the Constitution,” Lagman said.

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