Pacquiao, Arroyos also on Congress top absentee list
MANILA, Philippines - For 2 years now, legislators with run-ins with the law topped the list of absentees in the House of Representatives.
In 2010, then Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson was the top absentee in the 15th Congress after he was arrested for illegal drugs possession in Hong Kong.
In 2011, it's Dinagat Islands Rep. Ruben Ecleo, who attended only 8 sessions.
He filed 45 notices of absence, saying he was out on local official business.
Ecleo, the "supreme master" of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), was found guilty by the Sandiganbayan of overpricing construction supplies during his stint as mayor of San Jose town in Dinagat Island.
An arrest warrant was issued against him, which he is still contesting before the Supreme Court.
Ecleo also faces parricide charges for allegedly killing his wife, Alona, on January 5, 2002.
The local court is expected to issue a decision on the case next month.
Ecleo is followed on the top absentee list by Davao del Norte Rep. Anthony del Rosario, who attended only 25 session days out of the 59.
Of the 34 days that he was absent in session, 33 were filed as local official business.
Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo was in the House for only 26 session days. Of the 33 days that he was absent in session, 14 were without official notice.
Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao was in session only for 27 days. Of the 32 days that the boxing champion missed, 21 were without official notice.
Negros Occidental Rep. Julio Ledesma IV, Cagayan Rep. Juan "Jack" Ponce-Enrile Jr., and Agusan del Sur Rep. Ma. Valentina Plaza each went to only 30 session days, or were absent for 29 days each.
Ledesma had no notice of absence in the 22 session days that he did not show up on the floor.
Ang Galing Pilipino Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, eldest son of detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had 26 absences, all of which had no official notice of absence.
His mother, who now represents the second district of Pampanga, had 24 absences due to her medical condition.
Mrs. Arroyo is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City due to charges of electoral sabotage.
Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco, a former member of Arroyo's Cabinet, also did not have official notice for the 17 of the 25 days that he was absent in session.
On the flip side, another Arroyo was among those with perfect attendance.
Those who had perfect attendance were Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, Reps. Pedro Acharon Jr. (General Santos), Irvin Alcala (Quezon), Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo (Camarine Sur), Jorge Banal (Quezon City), Leopoldo Bataoil (Pangasinan), Mary Mitzi Cajayon (Caloocan).
Winston Castelo (Quezon City), Kimi Cojuangco (Pangasinan), Enrique Cojuangco (Tarlac), Rachel del Mar (Cebu), Salvio Fortuno (Camarines Sur), Roilo Golez (Paranaque), Neptali Gonzales II (Mandaluyong), Teodorico Haresco Jr. (Ang Kasangga partylist), David Kho (Senior Citizens partylist), Isidro Lico (AtingKoop partylist), Eleandro Jesus Madrona (Romblon), Florencio Noel (An Waray partylist), Jesus Emmanuel Paras (Bukidnon), Romero Federico Quimbo (Marikina), Pedro Romualdo (Camiguin), Raden Sakaluran (Sultan Kudarat), Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso (Cagayan), and Mariano Michael Velarde Jr. (Buhay partylist).
In registering their attendance during session days, the Office of the Secretary General had two categories: "deemed present" and "actually present."
According to Section 70 of the House Rules of the 15th Congress, the following are deemed present:
- 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 concerned committee secretary;
- members who are attending meetings of the Commission on Appointments;
- members who are attending meetings of the House of Rep Electoral Tribunal;
- members who are attending meetings of the bicameral conference; and,
- members who are on official mission as approved by the Speaker.
Statistics show only about 10% of the 285-member House of Representatives had perfect attendance in sessions for the year 2011.
From January 17 to December 14, 2011, the House of Representatives had a total of 59 session days.