By Sammy F. Martin
MANILA, Aug. 25 (PNA) — A House leader on Tuesday appealed to the House leadership to draft and approve rules against absenteeism aimed at reprimanding, suspending, and expelling lawmakers who do not attend congressional sessions.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr., vice president of 30-man National Unity Party (NUP) in the House of Representatives, said the proposed rules should also address whether to exempt Sarangani Rep. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao from being absent from legislative sessions due to his boxing career.
“We have to take drastic actions by disciplining, reprimanding and expelling lawmakers. We have to enact rules and regulations dealing with absentee-lawmakers. A penalty is necessary,” Barzaga told reporters at the weekly news forum, Ugnayan sa Batasan.
Barzaga made the reactions after Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. mustered a quorum with 204 lawmakers during Monday’s session, but was cut short after some of lawmakers left the session hall when another roll call was made, leaving the discussions on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law hanging.
On Tuesday, the leadership again managed to muster a quorum after 190 lawmakers responded to the roll call.
He reminded his colleagues that their duties include “enacting laws, attending congressional hearings, and attending committee hearings in aid of legislation.”
When asked to comment if his proposed rules on absenteeism will give exemptions to the likes of Pacquiao, Barzaga said the House leadership in concurrence with majority of lawmakers should decide on it.
“There must be valid exemptions. Dapat harapin ng House leadership ang problema ng quorum kasi ang problema natin you cannot have two vocations which demand full-time kaya iyun ang situation ng ating kababayang si Congressman Manny Pacquiao, talagang dumadating ang pagkakataon na talagang ipinagmamalaki natin siya, of course may pumupuna rin sa kanya,” said Barzaga, who earlier proposed a no work, no pay policy for House members who do not attend congressional sessions.
The Cavite lawmaker backed the suggestion to bring the truancy issue before the House committee on ethics, but opposed to padlock the session hall to prevent lawmakers from leaving.
Earlier, Belmonte proposed a “reward system” by publishing the names of lawmakers who religiously attend congressional sessions instead of “shame campaign” that will make public the names of absentee-lawmakers.
Aside from lawmaking and boxing, Pacquiao will be the playing-coach of the Mahindra Enforcers, formerly KIA Sorento in the Philippine Basketball Association . (PNA)