House lax on absentees – Macalintal

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ELECTION lawyer Romulo Macalintal has blamed the prevailing tradition and system in the House of Representatives of ignoring the repeated absences of its members as the primary reason for Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao’s failure to effectively perform his functions as a legislator.

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Macalintal was acting on reports that Pacquiao has been hit and criticized for his frequent absences in the lower house and was advised by his colleagues including Speaker Feliciano Belmonte “to do his duties and be more active as congressman.”

“But since when has attendance in legislative sessions been seriously considered by both houses of Congress as the basis or standard of performance of a legislator?” he asked.

“Since time immemorial, Congress has been lax or very lenient insofar as absences of its members are concerned. No member of Congress has ever been disciplined for being frequently absent in its sessions,” Macalintal added.

“Hundreds of laws had been passed without the required quorum in Congress that it has practically become a tradition in Congress to ignore or waive quorum in the passage of bills,” he continued.

He proposed that a law should be passed making it a criminal offense for members of Congress to pass a bill without the required number of legislators to constitute a quorum.

“The constitution should likewise be amended making it an impeachable offense as a betrayal of public trust for a President to sign into law a bill knowing fully well that it was passed by Congress without the required quorum,” the lawyer pointed out.

Macalintal stressed that Pacquiao should not be blamed or criticized for his absences.

“In a word, the blame is on the system and the House leadership for not even lifting a finger against its absentee members,” he noted.

Macalintal said it is better for Pacquiao to bring pride and honor to the country while being absent from legislative sessions than a congressman who does nothing or a habitual absentee during sessions.

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