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Neophyte lawmakers back 'no work, no pay' policy for Congress

Newly-minted lawmakers have thrown their support behind the “no work, no pay” proposal filed in the 17th Congress, saying attendance to sessions should be a factor in computing their monthly salaries.

Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said lawmakers should be subject to the same standards as other government employees when it comes to attendance to work, even if Congress is an independent branch of government, and is thus bound by its own rules.

“Panahon na rin na magkaroon tayo ng minimum standards. Kung talagang di pumapasok ang isang kongresista, hindi uma-attend ng session, dapat magkaroon ito ng impact sa kanyang sweldo,” he said in a forum in Quezon City on Thursday.

As a former law professor, however, Roque said Congress need not pass a law instituting a “no work, no pay” policy since it can be instituted through amendments to House rules.

“The rules of the House constitute law in the House itself. If the chamber decides na walang sweldo ang mga kongresista kapag hindi sila pumapasok, then so be it,” he said.

Under House Bill 412 filed by Navotas City Rep. Toby Tiangco, appropriate deductions will be made to the salaries of lawmakers who fail to attend the regular and special sessions for unjustifiable cause.

House members receive a monthly salary of P97,163.

Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos Recto said it is only fitting that lawmakers be paid based on their attendance to sessions, which are held from Monday to Wednesday.

“I don’t think I’m against it. Kung hindi ka magtatrabaho, bakit ka babayaran? You deserve it. Pag tinrabaho mo, kailangan kang bayaran. I don’t think mali ang pagsasabatas niyan,” she said.

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman found Tiangco's bill reasonable since it only penalizes the unjustifiable absences of lawmakers in sessions.

“Tama ‘yun. Kami ay public servants at kailangan naming mag-perform. Part of performing well involves attending sessions here in Congress,” she said.

Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, now a senator, and Negros Occidental Rep. Jules Ledesma, were listed as the top absentees in 2014, showing up for sessions for four and seven days, respectively.

The House has yet to release the attendance records of its members for 2015. —KBK, GMA News