• House absenteeism deserves ‘expulsion’

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    While employees live on a no-work, no-pay policy, lawmakers can just be absent from work anytime they want to because they will not be punished for it.

    Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas (Cavite), vice chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, underscored on Tuesday that it is about time that the House amend its rules to penalize the lawmakers who have been collecting absences like they are cherry-picking–a punishment that includes expulsion.

    Congress has only mustered quorum or enough majority attendance at least four times since President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivered his final State of the Nation Address last July 27. And in those four times, quorum eventually fizzled out after just an hour because lawmakers tended to leave their seats after the roll call.

    “Drastic circumstances require drastic action. The Supreme Court is explicit: We can reprimand our members with suspension or expulsion. We should have rules and regulations in dealing squarely with this absenteeism in House, including expulsion, if necessary,” Barzaga told reporters, referring an to existing law that allows the House of Representatives to draft its own rules.

    “This is needed because without a quorum, even the [national]budget will not be approved, as well as the other legislation proposed by the President such as the Bangsamoro law,” the congressman, a lawyer, said.

    The House of Representatives has 292 members, meaning at least 146 of them should show up in the plenary to reach a quorum.

    Under existing House rules, the chamber cannot hold session and deliberate on measures if there is no quorum.

    Plenary sessions can really proceed even without a quorum, provided that nobody will question if there is sufficient attendance.

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