Negros Occidental 1st district Rep. Jules Ledesma uses his iPad during the plenary session at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, August 17, 2010. (ABS-CBN News)
MANILA, Philippines - After being absent for nearly the entire 14th Congress, Negros Occidental 1st District Rep. Jules Ledesma attended Tuesday's plenary session at the House of Representatives for his fourth appearance in the 15th Congress.
Ledesma, husband of actress Assunta de Rossi, said he was absent for all but 3 of the 50 sessions in the last Congress because he was not given much of a role. He promised to work more if he is given an assignment.
For the 15th Congress, he said he believes he is still a member of the energy, labor and ways and means committees. He added that he wants to have more committee memberships and would like to be chairman of the House information technology committee.
Ledesma said he always goes to his office in the Batasang Pambansa but does not always show up at the plenary hall. "I'm in the House. If they need me on the floor, I'll be here," he told reporters.
He added that he hasn't missed much anyway since the 15th Congress started. "What has been taken up so far? Nothing," he said.
Ledesma admitted that he went to the plenary hall on Tuesday to stop rumors that he is never present and because House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte has been looking for him.
The congressman appeared in the plenary wearing a short sleeve barong. He said he was in a hurry to make it to the attendance check and had no time to change anymore.
After the attendance check, he said he was going back to his office to change and then return to the plenary.
Belmonte earlier warned absentee lawmakers that they would stop receiving their salaries and allowances if they continued to skip sessions and committee hearings. Without naming names, the Speaker said congressmen who fail to show up at plenary would be marked absent and face possible sanctions.
House records showed Ledesma attended only 3 session days in the last Congress but still collected P15.02 million in salaries, allowances and bonuses since July 2007 as well as an additional P140 million in pork barrel.
Ledesma won a fresh three-year term as congressman in the May elections. -- report from Timi Nubla, ABS-CBN News