MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco wants to put an end to the longstanding problem of absenteeism in Congress.
He filed House Bill Number 412, which seeks to impose a “no work, no pay” policy on all members of the House and the Senate.
“Notwithstanding the express mandate of the Constitution and existing laws, some members of Congress have failed to promptly, effectively, and efficiently carry out and perform the mandate of their office by reason of their failure to regularly attend sessions of Congress,” Tiangco said in his explanatory note to House Bill 412.
According to Tiangco, there are no existing policies that will discourage nor sanction the “frequent absences” of some members of Congress.
“This situation may very well be seen as unfair, considering that ordinary citizens are subjected to the ‘no work, no pay’ policy,” he said.
Tiangco is proposing the following salary deduction computation every time a legislator misses a session:
Monthly Salary / Number of Session Days = Salary per Session Day
Salary per Session Day x Number of Absences = Total Deductions
MonthlySsalary x Total Deductions = Net Monthly Salary
A lack of quorum in Congress has hampered the passage of important bills, such as the proposed Freedom of Information Act and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. (READ: Congress wasted time without passing Bangsamoro bill – lawmaker)
Civil society leaders from 14 Mindanao-based groups even urged the Office of the Ombudsman in December 2015 to investigate the “chronic absenteeism” in the House, following the failure of the House to muster a quorum for the Bangsamoro bill.
Tiangco said in pass Congresses, sessions were held from Monday and Thursday every week. But session days were shortened to Monday to Wednesday only because lawmakers wanted to spend Thursdays attending to their districts.
"Despite this change in session days, still, the attendance of House members has not improved," he said.
Tiangco said he filed the bill to promote professionalism in Congress.
“With the adoption of this policy, the avowed goal of government to improve the standard of living of the ordinary citizen, and to achieve sustainable development through effective legislation will be more efficiently achieved,” he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, however, finds Tianco's proposal as "demeaning."
"The proposed legislation is good copy for the media but I think it won't pass. I will oppose it if only to maintain the dignity and honor of the legislature and its members," he said.
"We are responsible officials and we answer to our constituents when we misbehave or commit misdemeanor like not attending sessions whimsically or without justifiable reason," Lacson added. – Rappler.com