Pacquiao No. 1 absentee in HouseBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Boxing superstar and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao is No. 1 in the House of Representatives for something other lawmakers should not emulate.
Pacquiao earned the distinction of racking up the biggest number of absences in the 15th Congress.
He, along with Negros Occidental Rep. Julio Ledesma IV, was absent for 60 out of the 168 session days, records from the House of Representatives show.
Pacquiao’s absences are equivalent to five session months as the House holds just three session days a week. Still, he received no diminution of salary and benefits.
By contrast, 21 of the 290 members of the House had perfect attendance.
Former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo registered a total attendance record of 111 days, three more than Pacquiao’s. But for most of her term, she has been detained at Veterans Memorial Medical Center for electoral sabotage and plunder cases.
Others who posted a marginally better attendance record than Pacquiao were Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, who was present for 112 days; Pampanga Rep Carmelo Lazatin, 115 days; Laguna Rep. Ma. Evita Arago, 116 days; and Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco, 117 days.
There were lawmakers who were present for far fewer days, but they either died during their term, took their oath in the middle of the 15th Congress or who were later dropped from the rolls.
Some absences were attributed to constituency work, while others were made without notice.
Among the top absentees, Mikey Arroyo posted the biggest number of absences without notice, at 53.
He was followed by Ledesma, who had 45 absences without notice. In another 15 of his absences, he was considered to be doing constituency work.
Syjuco had 42 absences without notice, and 9 absences for constituency work. Pacquiao had 37 absences without notice, and 23 absences for constituency work.
Gloria Arroyo’s 30 absences were also without notice and 24 were recorded as constituency work.
In Lazatin’s case, 43 of his absences were for constituency work, while 10 were without notice. Arago had 41 absences for constituency work, and 11 absences without notice.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte was among the lawmakers who were present for all session days of the 15th Congress.
Other lawmakers with perfect attendance records are Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao; Diwa party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay; Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo; Quezon City Rep. Jorge Banal; Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil; Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo; Cebu Rep. Rachel del Mar; Camarines Sur Rep. Salvio Fortuno; Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez; Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II; Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy; Senior Citizens party-list Rep. David Kho; Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman; An Waray party-list Rep. Florencio Noel; Una ang Pamilya party-list Rep. Reena Obillo; Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones; Antipolo Rep. Roberto Puno; Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo; Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos; and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
In previous instances, the absenteeism of many lawmakers had hampered work in Congress. There were times when sessions had to be adjourned because of a lack of warm bodies on the floor, leading to crucial legislation being stalled.
During the campaign for the May elections, several senatorial candidates supported the idea of imposing fines on lawmakers who would constantly fail to report for duty.
Incoming Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said that being a member of Congress was a serious responsibility and that a basic requirement of the job was to attend hearings and sessions.
Originally posted: 4:47 pm | Tuesday, June 25th, 2013