Pacquiao top absentee in Congress

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Manny Pacquiao only attended one plenary session during the final leg of the past 16th Congress when he was still Sarangani representative.

Pacquiao was absent 22 times in plenary sessions of the House of Representatives from July 27, 2015 to June 6, 2016, the third and final regular session of the 16th Congress. Of this number, 16 were absences “without notice."

The 16th Congress’ final regular session coincided with Pacquiao's training for his fight against boxer Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao won the match via unanimous decision. (READ: Pacquiao denies plan to take Senate leave for boxing

The period also covered the run-up to the 2016 elections, when several of then-incumbent representatives were campaigning, like Pacquiao, or were running other candidates' campaigns. (READ: Senator-elect Pacquiao on absences: I'll do my best

Pacquiao was not the only representative who registered poor attendance in the 16th Congress.

Twenty-seven other lawmakers were present in 10 or less session days out of the total 52 days.

The House attendance record showed that a roll call was not made during 29 session days, which means a perfect attendance record for the 16th Congress' last session is equivalent to just 23 days.

Here is the list of representatives who had the poorest attendance records:

The table above excluded lawmakers who had attended 10 or less session days but whose absences were due to circumstances beyond their control.

This includes Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who failed to attend any sessions because she remains under hospital arrest due to her pending plunder case. 

Lanao del Norte Representative Abdullah Dimaporo was arrested by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on August 5, 2013.  

Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Paulino Salvador "Doy" Leachon was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for 90 days starting December 19, 2015. 

Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco replaced Regina Ongsiako Reyes starting February 1, 2016.

Northern Samar Representative Raul Daza took his oath just on May 23, 2016, replacing Harlin Abayon. Then-Ating Koop Representative Roberto Mascariña took his oath on the same day.

Former Surigao del Sur Representative Mary Elizabeth Ty-Delgado also took over Philip Pichay’s seat on May 23, 2016. 

Villar was on maternity leave for two months. Due to her weak immune system, she was advised by doctors to take another 30-day leave.

Who had perfect attendance?

NO ABSENCES. Outgoing House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, outgoing House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, and Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez all have perfect attendance during the 16th Congress. File photo by Rappler

NO ABSENCES. Outgoing House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, outgoing House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, and Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez all have perfect attendance during the 16th Congress.

File photo by Rappler

Still, 39 out of the 293 legislators in the 16th Congress were physically present in all 52 session days.

They include outgoing House Speaker and Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr and outgoing Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II. 

Seventeen legislators also missed some plenary session days, but were still considered to have perfect attendance.  

This is because House rules still consider "present" those representatives who may not be physically present at the plenary session but instead attended the following:

They are as follows:

Chronic absenteeism” at the House of Representatives has been a perennial problem, with a lack of quorum hampering the passage of important bills. 

Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco already filed a “No work, no way” policy bill in the 17th Congress as a proposal to solve the problem.  

The 17th Congress opens on July 25. – Rappler.com

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story did not include the explanation for Villar's absences. This was not indicated in the House attendance record for the final regular session of the 16th Congress. 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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