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Filipino fight icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao was only present at the House of Representatives for four days last year, the official attendance records of House members showed.
Between Jan. 20, 2014 to Dec. 17, 2014, Pacquiao showed up for work for four days and was deemed present for three days, bringing his total attendance record to seven days.
The document, posted on the House of Representatives’ website, also showed Negros Occidental Rep. Julio "Jules" Ledesma IV attending House sessions for seven out of a total of 70 session days for 2014.
With a total attendance record of seven session days, Pacquiao and Ledesma are tied as the lawmakers with the most number of absences in the lower chamber.
Pacquiao, who juggles boxing, legislative work, showbiz and basketball duties, spent 25 days on "constituency work" and had two unexcused absences last year. Ledesma, meanwhile, was preoccupied with constituency work for 14 days and logged 13 days of unexcused absences.
The boxer-cum-lawmaker’s dismal attendance record has prompted former Senator Rene Saguisag last month to ask House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to suspend Pacquiao from the House up to the end of his term in 2016 since the latter appears to treat legislative work “as a hobby or sideline.”
Blank attendance record
Meanwhile. the attendance records of former president and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo were left blank since they are both under hospital arrest.
Arroyo is detained at Veterans Memorial Medical Center since 2012 over plunder charges filed against her in connection with the alleged misuse of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s intelligence funds, while Dimaporo has been under hospital arrest at Cardinal Santos Medical Center after being charged with graft and malversation for the alleged fictitious procurement of P5 million worth of organic fertilizers.
Next to Pacquiao and Ledesma, the other lawmakers who posted the highest number of absences last year were Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, who was only present for a total of 10 days, Iloilo Rep. Hernan Biron Jr., 11, and Leyte Rep. Lucy Gomez, 15.
Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano also had a total attendance record of 15 days but he was only sworn in as a House member on May 28, 2014.
The attendance of House members are classified by the House secretariat as either “actually present” or “deemed present.” Only lawmakers who are actually present in the plenary are counted in determining a quorum.
Of 290 House members, only 65, including Belmonte and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, had a perfect attendance record of 34 days with zero absences and no days deemed present.
There was a total of 70 session days last year but the roll was called for only 34 days to dispense with the need for a quorum.
Section 70 of the House rules states that those who are deemed present are the following:
Members who are attending committee meetings as authorized by the Committee on Rules, in accordance with Section 35 hereof, upon written notification to the Secretary General by the concerned committee secretary;
- Members who are attending meetings of the Commission on Appointments;
- Members who are attending meetings of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal;
- Members who are attending meetings of bicameral conference committees; and
- Members who are on official mission as approved by the Speaker.
—JST, GMA News