Top absentee Pacquiao is acting chair of House panel to probe Veloso case
A MILITANT lawmaker called on boxing icon and top absentee Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao to be present at the House of Representatives because he is now the acting chairman of the committee that would hear a resolution calling for an investigation on Mary Jane Veloso’s case.
In a press conference, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares urged Pacquiao to attend the House hearings to tackle the resolution as acting chair of the House overseas workers’ affairs committee.
Colmenares said that Pacquiao, as the number one vice chair, is now automatically the head of the committee following the resignation of its chairman Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello.
Colmenares and fellow Bayan Muna lawmaker Carlos Zarate filed House Resolution 2042 directing the overseas workers affairs committee to investigate in aid of legislation Veloso’s case and other OFWs penalized abroad for alleged drug trafficking.
“In the light of Veloso’s case, it is of utmost urgency for Congress to investigate the case of the so-called drug mules who are unsuspectingly used by drug syndicates and the modus operandi of the same to forewarn the public, especially those applying for jobs through the Internet,” the resolution read.
It added that Congress must also look into the efforts of the Philippine government to protect and assist OFWs like Veloso and soon-to-be OFWs from becoming victims of criminal syndicates.
Veloso was sentenced to death by firing squad for smuggling drugs into Indonesia. She said she was used by an international drug ring as an unwilling drug mule. She said she was also a victim of human trafficking. She is set to be executed later Tuesday.
She was originally recruited as domestic helper in Kuala Lumpur until her recruiter Kristina Sergio allegedly told her proceed to Indonesia and carry an empty but heavy suitcase. Authorities arrested Veloso upon finding 2.6 kilograms of heroin stashed inside the suitcase lining.
Meanwhile, Veloso’s alleged recruiter Sergio surrendered Tuesday.
“I am going to write a letter to Congressman Manny, as acting chair of the committee na sana huwag na muna siyang magpahinga pagkatapos ng laban niya, i-hear na lang sana niya ang resolution especially since wala na siyang gagawin after this fight,” Colmenares said.
But the committee secretariat Atty. Christopher Lomibao said Pacquiao is just an automatic chair until the House leadership votes on the next panel chairman.
“Under the rules, kapag wala pang pinipili ang leadership, he automatically becomes acting chair. If he’s the new chair, it remains to be seen by next week kung sino ang i-e-elect sa plenary,” Lomibao said.
The other vice chairmen after Pacquiao are Alay Buhay Rep. Weslie Gatchalian, OFW Family Rep. Roy Señeres and Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar.
Dubbed as the “Fight of the Century,” Pacquiao is set to face boxer Floyd Mayweather on Sunday.
According to House records, Pacquiao is the top absentee and he was technically “deemed present”—meaning his absences were excused—for three days. He spent 25 days on “constituency work” and registered two unexcused absences.
Pacquiao earlier said his absence in the chamber is excusable as long as he is present for his constituents in his district.
“Absent ako dito, pero present naman ako sa distrito natin. Marami naman tayong natutulungan,” Pacquiao added. AC