Pacquiao top absentee in Congress

Mara Cepeda
Pacquiao top absentee in Congress
(UPDATED) Records from the past Congress show that aside from then Sarangani Representative Pacquiao, 27 lawmakers attended 10 or less session days

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:

Name District/Party-list  Session days attended
Manny Pacquiao Sarangani 1
Franklin Bautista Davao del Sur, 2nd District 3
Julio Ledesma IV Negros Occidental, 1st District 3

Hernan Biron Jr

Iloilo, 4th District 4
Manuel Iway  Negros Oriental, 1st District 4
Edcel “Grex” Lagman Albay, 1st District 4

Magnolia Antonino 

Nueva Ecija, 4th District 5
Ma. Theresa Bonoan Manila, 4th District 5
Kimi Cojuangco Pangasinan, 5th District 5

Luis “Jon-Jon” Ferrer IV

Cavite, 6th District 6
Abigail Faye Ferriol-Pascual KALINGA  6
Ruby Sahali Tawi-tawi 6
Ronald Singson  Ilocos Sur, 1st District 6

Vicente Belmonte Jr

Iligan City 7
Guillermo Romarate Jr Surigao del Norte, 2nd District 7

Francisco Calalay Jr

Quezon City, 1st District 8
Joseph “Ace” Durano Cebu, 5th District 8
Douglas Hagedorn Palawan, 3rd District 8
Francisco “Lalo” Matugas Surigao del Norte, 1st District 8
Damian Mercado Southern Leyte 8

Maria Zenaida Angping 

Manila, 3rd District 9
Nelson Dayanghirang Davao Oriental, 1st District 9
Joel Roy Duavit Rizal, 1st District 9
Teodorico Haresco Jr Aklan 9
Arnel Ty LPGMA 9

Emmeline Aglipay-Villar 

DIWA 10
Rolando Andaya Jr Camarines Sur, 1st District 10
Patricio Antonio AGBIAG 10

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

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. 

Name District/Party-list
Feliciano Belmonte Jr Quezon City, 4th District; House Speaker
Neptali Gonzales II Mandaluyong; Majority Floor Leader
Jose Atienza Jr

Buhay

Leopoldo Bataoil Pangasinan, 2nd District
Jose Christopher Belmonte  Quezon City, 6th District
Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc Pampanga, 4th District 

Emi Calixto-Rubiano

Pasay City

Winston “Winnie” Castelo

 Quezon City, 2nd District

Fredenil “Fred” Castro

 Capiz, 2nd District

Jesus “Boying” Celeste

 Pangasinan, 1st District

Christopher Co

AKO Bicol

Juliet Cortuna  A TEACHER

Leo Rafael Cueva

Negros Occidental, 2nd District

Maximo Dalog

Mountain Province

Raul del Mar

Cebu City, 1st District

Cheryl Deloso-Montalla

 Zambales, 2nd District

Fernando Gonzales

Albay, 3rd District
Barry Gutierrez  Akbayan
Antonio Lagdameo Jr Davao del Norte, 2nd District
Catalina “Baby” Leonen-Pizarro ABS
Celso Lobregat Zamboanga City, 1st District

Eleandro Jesus Madrona 

Romblon
Evelyn Mellana Agusan del Sur, 2nd District
Neil Benedict Montejo AN WARAY
Victor Ortega La Union, 1st District

Gavini Pancho

Bulacan, 2nd District
Mariano Piamonte Jr A TEACHER

Maria Valentina Plaza

Agusan del Sur, 1st District 
Marlyn Primicias-Agabas Pangasinan, 6th District
Miro Quimbo Marikina, 2nd District
Josephine Ramirez-Sato Occidental Mindoro
Deogracias Ramos Jr Sorsogon, 2nd District

Isidro Rodriguez Jr

Rizal, 2nd District
Oscar Rodriguez Pampanga, 3rd District 
Herminia Roman Bataan, 1st District

Jesus Sacdalan

North Cotabato, 1st District
Randolph Ting Cagayan, 3rd District

Peter “Sr Pedro” Unabia

Misamis Oriental, 1st District
Rolando Klarex Uy Cagayan de Oro City, 1st District

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:

  • Committee meetings as authorized by the Committee on Rules
  • Meetings of the Commission on Appointments
  • Meetings of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal
  • Meetings of the bicameral conference committee

They are as follows:

Name District/Party-list

John “Ping” Amante

Agusan del Norte, 2nd District

Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas

Pangasina, 3rd District

Conrado Estrella

ABONO

Agapito Guanlao

BUTIL

Rufus Rodriguez

Cagayan de Oro City, 2nd District

Erlinda Santiago

1 SAGIP

Jorge “Bolet” Banal

Quezon City, 3rd District

Evelina Escudero

Sorsogon, 1st District

Ma Victoria Sy-Alvarado

Bulacan, 1st District

Magtanggol Gunigundo

Valenzuela City, 2nd District

Roberto Puno

Antipolo City, 1st District

Estrelita Suansing 

Nueva Ecija, 1st District

Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino

Cavite, 7th District

George Arnaiz 

Negros Oriental

Antonio del Rosario

Capiz, 1st District

Rodolfo Fariñas

Ilocos Norte, 1st District

Roy Loyola

Cavite, 5th District

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. 

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.