Pacquiao, De Lima? Absent!
Only three of five neophyte senators and their respective staff attended an orientation at the Senate on Monday, three days before they officially assume office on June 30.
Present were Senators-elect Risa Hontiveros, Sherwin Gatchalian and Joel Villanueva, who all have experience in lawmaking as former members of the House of Representatives.
The Senate secretariat briefed the incoming senators about the legislative work in the chamber, including maintenance, security and their salaries.
The two other neophytes who did not participate in the orientation were Senators-elect Leila de Lima, former Justice Secretary, and Manny Pacquiao, who was also a congressman before winning a Senate seat last May 9 elections.
De Lima said she was not able to attend the hearing, citing a conflict in her schedule.
“I have a sked conflict. So, I just sent a team headed by my CoS (chief of staff),” she said in a text message.
De Lima added that “I was previously briefed, one-on-one, by a Senate official.
Pacquiao’s chief of staff said he could not attend the briefing as it coincided with his meeting with some local officials. The senator, instead, sent his staff to the briefing.
Villanueva described the orientation as “interesting” and “very helpful” considering his six years absence in legislation.
After serving his full three terms or nine years at the House of Representatives as Cibac representative, Villanueva was appointed Secretary of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in 2010 until he declared his senatorial run late last year.
“Interesting and very helpful kasi anim na taon tayong wala dun sa legislation but there’s so much similarity sa pinangalingan nating bahay, dun sa House of Representatives. More than anything, talagang nakaka excite…” he told reporters after the briefing.
“I’m very excited also dahil yung goal naman natin from the very start hindi lang manalo sa elekyon kung hindi makagawa at makalikha ng maraming trabaho dito sa Senado.”
Villanueva reiterated his desire to become an “employee of the month” in the Senate, which he said was a “difficult” task. Nonetheless, he promised to do his best to perform so not to fail the more than 18 million people who voted for him in the last senatorial race.
He also promised to focus on his advocacies such as job creation and not so much congressional inquiry.
“I’ll be very happy and very vocal to share with you na ang ang aking focus ay ang paggawa at paglikha ng trabaho, not much on politicking or in a lot of investigations na nangyayari dito sa Senate. Baka hindi ako maging very active dyan unless it involves creation of job o nakakaapekto sa paggawa ng ating mga kababayan,” he added.
Like Villanueva, Hontiveros said the orientation was helpful as she was also inactive in legislative work for six years. She said she considered the briefing a “review” of her legislative work when she was representative of Akbayan partylist in the lower chamber.
“I’m super excited na makapagtrabaho bilang senador, dalhin yung plataporma ng universal health care at isulong yung agenda ng social protection at lahat ng agenda ng batayang sektor…” she said.
Gatchalian said the briefing was “very informative” although he noted many similarities in the legislative work in the lower chamber.
“Maraming similarities. In fact, I’d say almost 80 percent similar in terms of services, process. May mga unique thing lang, yung building, yung physical aspect, but in general halos pareho naman…” he said.
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