Poll fever leaves House empty



It seems many lawmakers are burning with election fever that they have failed to attend the House of Representatives’ regular sessions.

More than half of the House members did not show up during each of three plenary sessions this week, prompting officials to adjourn the meetings and let crucial bills languish on the back burner.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said the midterm elections in May must have swayed his colleagues into focusing on matters in their districts in preparation for the polls, hence the many empty seats in the session hall.

But Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said he would not let such a situation continue and would remind lawmakers of their duty.

Belmonte said he would have text messages sent to the representatives reminding them of the sessions and was confident there would be a quorum on Monday.

The sessions during the last quarter of this year are supposed to be crunch time, when lawmakers resolve important measures because they are expected to adjourn early and be preoccupied with the campaign for the elections.

Among the priority measures the House intends to tackle are the antitrust bill, amendments to the antimoney laundering measure, the reproductive health bill, the freedom of information bill and the open skies bill. The House also has to ratify the bicameral committee report on the budget.

But many lawmakers are apparently preparing for the elections much earlier this time and are too busy to attend the 4 p.m. sessions.

A problem every election

On Monday, only 113 members showed up at the plenary session. On Tuesday, 139 members were present and on Wednesday, 131 were present. The House needs 50 percent of its members plus one—or 145 lawmakers—to be able to hold sessions.

The House has 287 members.

Gonzales, interviewed on Wednesday, acknowledged some lawmakers tended to skip sessions during the election season so they could spend more time in their districts and attend to matters involving their constituents.

“It’s a problem every time elections are near,” he told reporters. “It’s not because they deliberately don’t want to attend but the plenary (is) sacrificed because they are in their provinces.”

Matter of survival

This was a problem in previous Congresses, he said.

He noted a tendency among some first-termers who wanted to protect their bailiwicks and those running for new positions to devote their time to their districts in the run-up to the polls. They would rather be in events where many constituents were present than be in the House plenary.

It was a matter of survival for them, especially if the posts in their bailiwicks were hotly contested, he said.

Gonzales said the situation was compounded by the need to file the certificates of candidacy (COCs) early owing to the automation of the elections, which in effect ushers in an early election period.

“Politics comes earlier now,” he said.

Gonzales solution

The deadline for the filing of COCs for next year’s polls was set for October because the Commission on Elections needed more time to print the ballots to be used for the counting machines.

When the elections were manual, the filing of COCs was held in March, or about two months before the elections.

To mitigate the situation, Gonzales said House leaders had ordered that a roll call be held every session starting this week to send a message to lawmakers that their presence or absence in the plenary was being monitored.

Previously, the House only held a roll call on Monday. If there was a quorum, the roll call was dispensed with within the succeeding days.

Congress resumed its current session on Nov. 5 after a two-week break. It will have another break starting Dec. 22. The sessions will resume on Jan. 21 and end on Feb. 9.

Dismay on Twitter

The official campaign period for those running in the senatorial and party-list polls starts on

Feb. 12. The campaign period for those seeking local posts begins on March 29.

The absence of a quorum this week has earned the ire of some netizens, who read about it on the social networking site Twitter on Wednesday night.

Twitter user @ronnathanielsz said: “What are these people being paid for by us taxpayers!”

User @engr_leiyla said: “This is where your taxes go,” while @edz_ayson’s reaction was simply, “BOOOOO!”

Another user, @limbertqc, did not find the matter surprising. “What else is new?” he tweeted.

Originally posted at 05:02 pm | Thursday, November 15, 2012

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  • marionics

    puki ng inang mga tongressman yan

  • joshmale2004

    May I request the Inquirer to publish the names of all frequent absentee congressmen, the region/province they are representing and their party affiliation so their constituents would know and not vote for them. As of this time since campaign starts on Feb 2013, it is presumed that they are using people’s money for their early campaign. This is a very BIG SHAME. I don’t care whether these absentees are UNA, LP or Independent. They should not be voted/electedanew to Congress.

    • marionics

      hay naku good luck with that. habang mga uneducated impoversihed maleable masses ang botante e maski anong gawin mo iboboto pa rin nila yang mag dynastic na congressman nila yan. same sa local officials. iba ang labanan talaga sa local

      • tamumd

        It’s your kind who loves the status quo to continue. If every Filipino has the same mentality like yours….nothing will happen to our future as a nation.

      • marionics

        don’t get me wrong, i love all that to change. i’m just calling a spade a spade. kelangan talaga mabawasan ang uneducated masses na yan through whatever means possible including but not limited to population control legislation. otherwise democracy will not work in our country

  • Hunter421

    No quorum, no pay, no allowances, no pork barrel.

    • buttones

      It has always been the case, the last FOI Bill had the same problem in GMA’s time- it seems when FOI, RH, Dynasty Bills come before the House the motorcycles of all the honorable members of the House all break down on the same day….[or maybe it’s a bad hair day?] Good idea by the way, they should install time clocks and time cards at the House- you get paid for the hours you work…..

    • Loggnat

      The members of Congress should be given their pork barrel according to their performance in the House or Senate. Pork barrel funds should be released only if they submitted projects that will benefit their constituents and approved by a committee in their respective side of Congress. Approval will rely on the feasibility of the project and the performance of the member in the past congressional sessions and attendance will be a part of that. At the end of their term, they should be graded on their performance and effectiveness in crafting or assisting in bills that will be the law of the land if passed by Congress and approved/signed by the President. Also included are the quality and quantity of projects they have accomplished for their constituents. Grade/Ratings will be; Passed/ Marginal/ Fail and those who did not make the grade will not be allowed by the COMELEC to run for reelection. =)) Wishful thinking/Pipe dream….hehehe…

      • Hunter421

        Big time wishful thinking. A grading system would be nice and failure will result in being disqualified for public office. I’d prefer A, B & C are passing, D they can run for election after 3 years and F is a total and lifetime disqualification for public office, elected, appointed or hired. Also, previous grading A/B/C/D will be displayed on ballots!

  • chibert jala

    buti na lang naka-unli text si speaker belmonte…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QZZKXPEA67I7HELEIYM35QVYFA Jon

    Simple lang iyan.
    Kung di kayang puwesahing mag-attend, palitan ang namumuno ng House.
    Failed leadership kaya di ma-control ang mga Tongressmen. 

  • pilosopo4

    And the Filipino people continue to elect these perennial truants!

    • pabulaka

      Because many of those voters are uneducated and sell their votes for 100 pesos.

  • Ommm

    The answer is simple…allow them one term only just like the president….

    • $14334231

      and never allowed to run again for any elective office…..

      • moshki

        …forever and ever…amen…

      • $14334231


  • Alejandro Canda

    another solution is to withhold their pork barrel.  

  • $14334231

    this is the sad truth of philippine politics….power and money are the real culprits here……

  • nennen12345

    personal interests first before the public. that’s how politics is in our country.  just good in campaigning and the constituents are the pity ones, as always.  vote for the candidates that you think will bring progress to your area and not to the progress of their own selves.


    this politicians are the kind that make me sick,talk a lot and do nothing or even worse pretend to have done something,bugbug na pilipinas sa corruption ng mga taong ito.Tama si ommmm 1 term lang dapat mga yan

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PPY3MIH6BDML3DUEKLBV7OEHYU Bing

    there should be a law stating that if they exceed a certain number of absences, they should be stripped of their post and face a jail term for wasting people’s resources.

    • Loggnat

      Maybe, negligence of their duty and responsibility and failure and/or breach of their contract to serve the people by working for them in Congress. Their constituents should be able to tell those politicians that ‘ They are fired’. =))

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PPY3MIH6BDML3DUEKLBV7OEHYU Bing

    why are we, the FILIPINO PEOPLE, allowing this to happen???

    • Loggnat

       Why is the media, who is supposedly the watchdog for the people not putting this in the news. They should add the names of those who were absent and not doing the job that they were sent there to do? Their constituents could then refuse to vote for them if they are candidates in the next election. Show them who’s the BOSS.=))

      • captainramius

        Mas important pa kasal ni Loren Legazpi at Carmena

      • jeffrey_01

        and who do you think owns the media?  political dynasties.

    • jeffrey_01

      we are stupid and gullible

  • est

    ano ba ito panloloko to the maximum

  • est

    could someone tell us who this people are

    • captainramius

      Of course isa na dyan si Pacman,, deep in training sa US …. he is a part time congressman , full time boxer during months when he has a bout… and part time show biz when he is guesting sa TV.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TCQMRK4HVOSF2IGML46TAGKMXU Benjamin

    I totally agree with Bing. The lawmakers must be held responsible for delaying or postponing hearings on certain bills that need action. They get paid by the Filipino people and most of them just keep absenting due to the coming elections. Mga makakapal ang mukha ng mga politikong ito dahil inuuna nila ang sariling kapakanan at hindi ng bayan. Sabagay, mga bobo ang mga Pinoy dahil binoto nila ang mga ito. Yes, it is really fun in the Philippines.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DI3QGCJEEFK52CT4DTQ7I5SRUE Neil

    Hindi natututo, mga walang konsiensya, walang nagbabago, BULUK PA RIN….Di lang mga pulitiko ang may DEPEKTO dito,  SYSTEMIC na ang problema…  

    Panahon na upang I-REHABILITATE ang sistema ng pulitika sa PINAS.  May malubhang karandaman ang KONGRESO at ang EPEKTO,  kawalang pag-asa ang nararandaman ng mga PILIPINO.

  • pabulaka

    Withhold their pork barrels, allies or not, and the Speaker should be strong-willed enough to command respect from these Congressmen.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/L6TTZGNCMP4XWQQCNIX65PTNJM Ciano

    wala na talagang pag asa pa na ma iahon tayo sa kahirapan.mismo ang namumuno sa bansa walang ginagawa.sayang lang ang pera ng taong bayan.puro pangsariling interes lang ang inatupag!!!

  • basyong

    yang mga tongresmen kapag walang suhol o lagay hindi na magpapakita sa tongress.pero noong impeachment ni corona kahit holiday ang mga asong naghihintay ng lagay e buhay na buhay at lahat nagpirmahan sa impeachment kahit hindi binasa ang laman ganyan kasakim ang mga tongresmen at mga senatong

  • http://www.facebook.com/lolo.mo.73997 Lolo Mo

    I’m an independent candidate in Q.C. as Mayor. I am just wondering why COMELEC is so silent to the point of being inutil or useless in implementing the rules and regulation embodied in its Charter. PRE-CAMPAIGNING IS A NO-NO. And this has been violated by political candidates especially by the Senators and Congressmen. These notoriious group is known to violate the election rules with impunity by appearing in major T.V. stations in spite of Sixto Brilliantes admonishment that they should refrain from attending social gatherings and coming out in T.V. talk shows.

    Bastusan na ang nangyayari. In the last May 2010 election, being a first timer, I was compounded or overwhelmed on the extent of cheating from Nov. 2009 all the way to the end of last day of campaign period in 2010. Local Candidates particularly the Q.C. Councilors has their posters in almost all the doors already posted of squatter shanties. They also distributed the usual food bag comprising rice, noodles, sardines, coffee, sugar, and cream. Worst, it is the Barangay Council members who participated in the distribution contrary to its mandate not to participate in electioneering. Then, there is the song fest and beauty contest of the third sex with large pictures of Candidates in prominent position of the stages. Even before these, in Q.C., these cheaters has started their indirect campaign by giving away expensive vehicles, using public funds, and also they give away tents with their name and picture prominently displayed on top. In almost all Barangay Council Halls, you can see large tarpaulins hanging in the middle of the street hanging on electric wires.

    I have nothing except a 5 digit budget against a “super multi-million budget” of my contenders. In May 2010, no less than P 400 million pesos was spend by those running for reelection. This was the time when in January 2010, Mr. Belmonte as Mayor allocate to himself 3 billion pesos as discretionary funds for his personal projects. The problem with this kind of method is more chances than not, there is a prearrange bidding. On the other hand, the Councilors apportioned each of them 43 million pesos/year, this is in 2010 and previous years.  Most of these projects were spend on building waiting sheds of commuters with their names advertised on the roof. Of course, there is the question of ghost employees and ghost scholarships. Others gave away iron bench, tents, and even flower pots, again, with their names prominently painted in all these items. Their message is clear, ” YOu should be beholden to me for giving these items to your community.”

    How can we go forward with this kind of politicians in our midst. Before 2010, base on the Salary Standardization Scale a Mayor like former Mayor Belmonte receives a measly P 15, 500/ mo. while a City Councilor receives P 14,500/ mo. Now, to equate their campaign expenses of no less than P 400 millions during election defies any kind of logic.  “Ang sabi ng karamihan, kung malaki ang ginugol ng isang kandidato, siguradong, 101%, babawiin din nila!” If this is the case, Independent Candidates has no chance at all to fight the evil empire. I call it so because our mode of election is tainted with so many violations with just one objective, “spend millions now, and if you win, recover it hundred fold.”

    The COMELEC slogan of “equal opportunity” is nothing by a by-word, that in real world, it does not exist. Yet, I do not feel undaunted. Somewhere, sometime, those who are in dire need of government help and who are the ones who sell their votes, may someday, perhaps, in 2013 finally realize that it should not be money that should determine the winner, but his advocacy and agenda. We are no longer in a democratic form of government but rather, we have an Oligarchy type in which election is just an exclusive game for the rich and powerful. “Equal opportunity” he he he he!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lolo.mo.73997 Lolo Mo

    Yesterday, I went to Q.C. Hall requesting for the list of Senior Citizens Organization in this City, and also accredited Civic Organization. Guess what, “They wouldn’t give me the list because I’m a contender in May 2013. “Pati ba public documents, pinagkakait pa nila.” Does it needs the approval of Bistek? Nasaan ang “Equal opportunity” na sinasabi ng COMELEC? I can not afford to spend a fortune by way of posting political ads. and the only why I can communicate is sending letters to the heads of these Civic Organization comes March 2013 regarding my agenda. Kawawa talaga ang mga maliliit na kandidato dito sa Pinas, higit pa sa Q.C.

    COMELEC should takes its legal mandate which is to assert and promulgate its rulings. 

  • captainramius

    A congressman has 365 days to work for his constituents , if he started working on day one of January he need not be cramming for time on election period.   And a public servant who deliver the goods of public service ala the late Jesse Robredo need not even be campaigning so hard just to get the votes.  The problem is more than 50 % based on their absences are maybe the traditional congressmen , who only work tru doleouts to the voters duing election

    • jeffrey_01

      no accountability.  congress and senate should be reformed.  pork barrel should be given to congressman who perform and show improvements on their respective districts.

      they should be graded and have a time card.  exit doors in congress should have personal card reader.  they cant get out the door unless they swipe their card and will be recorded the going in and out.

  • captainramius

    Start by abolishing the pork barrel…

    • jeffrey_01

      its like taking a steak from a hungry lion.
      nobody will pass the bill to abolish the pork barrel. they will kill you if you insist.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DI3QGCJEEFK52CT4DTQ7I5SRUE Neil

    NABUBULUK na at MABAHO na ang KONGRESO.  Sinasayang lang nito ang mahigit P20.0 bilyun PDAF  o   PORK BARREL na budget taun-taon sa KONGRESO na taxpayer’s money at walang NAIDEDELIVER na pagbabago.     P20.0 bilyun / kada taon na winawaldas at di napakikinabangan ng mga PILIPINO

    May 7 mahahalagang Bill ang nakasalang at BINUBURO sa Kongreso;   ang ilan dito ay ang COMPENSATION BILL for HR victims na pinalow-up pa ng mga pinuno ng European Countries kay PNOY sa ASEM meeting na pabilisin ang pagpapasa,  FOI, Sin Taxes, Cybercrime, Political Party Development ACT at  ilan economic provision.

    Patunay lamang na sa halos 6 na dekada, WALANG MAASAHAN ang mamamayan Pilipino sa KONGRESONG kinakatawan ng mga DINASTIYA-POLITICAL CLAN at TRAPO….nananalo tuwing election dahil sa PANDARAYA, PANANAKOT, impluwensya,  kilala at PAMIMILI ng BOTO…

  • captainramius

    Tama ang isang reader dito… 280+ congressmen x 70 M pork per year is P 20 billion , from us taxpayers. At dahil sa 20 billion na ito nag absent ang mga yan para sigurado sila manalo sa susunod na election.

    Anak na patula…ilan ang tao living below the poverty line dito sa Pinas 30 or 50 million.  Mga congressmen dapat nga mag trabaho kayo 6 days a week gaya namin kong ang problema natin paano ma solve poverty dito sa Pinas .  Bakit ba gagastos tayo 20 billion para lang mag pasa ng batas ? 

    • edpoeto

      We need to revolt against Pork barrel. Sino ba ang may pera sa inyo, magtulungan tayo.

  • Fulpol

    the competition is getting tough.. competition in getting closer to the hearts of their constituents than in creating laws…

    do you need to question their performance in Congress??? unfair… remember, the incumbent President is a former Senator and Congressman… performance wise???

  • virgoyap

    Yung congressmen na yon mabaho pa sa TRAPO!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4R3GZTGML26TV2VGS6RVHP2THM Fred

    Iboboto pa ba ninyo ang mga yan??
    Support anti-dynasty movement!

    • edpoeto

      Anti-dynasty is a negative connotation, the name of the bill should be change to gain much needed support. The name is divisive. It does not adhere to Filipino culture. Cant think of other names, any suggestion.

      • resortman

        Try This ” Pulitikang mana-mana, pulitikang pasa-pasa, Ibasura!!”

      • edpoeto

        much better. thanks

    • jeffrey_01

      kaya nga hindi maaprobahan dahil walang mga donkey sa congress.

  • Francis81

    Sabi ng mga Kongresista e presidente nga nagangampanya na at di na rin nakikita sa Malakanyang kami pa!

  • kilabot

    shows how politically ignorant, immature and illiterate pinoys are. electorates and candidates.
    country prides itself as being the most literate and the only christian country in seasia.
    yet, it has become the servant of the world and has a perverted view of morality.

  • Bengatibo

    The Members of Congress and Senators depend so much on the Pork barrel kaya winawalanghiya nila ang taong bayan. Makikita niyo ang tunay na kulay nila pag-natanggal ang Pork Barrel, After having said that, perhaps not in our lifetime na titino ang ating bansa Pork Barrel is the root of all evil and corruption in the Philippines. Agree or disagree???

  • jeffrey_01

    self serving donkeyholes.  who are they?

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