MANILA, Philippines - Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson has overtaken Negros Occidental 1st district Representative Jules Ledesma as perennial absentee in the first 6 months of the 15th Congress.
Singson did not attend any of the 45 plenary session days from July 1 to December 31, 2010.
Aside from Singson, Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Antonio G. del Rosario also missed all 45 plenary sessions.
Western Samar 2nd district Rep. Milagrosa Tan missed 30 out of 45 plenary sessions.
House records show Singson, Del Rosario and Tan are away on "official business."
But it's no secret and it's been widely reported that Singson is in Hong Kong facing illegal drug-related charges.
Singson couldn't leave the former Crown colony as he is just out on bail pending the resolution of his case.
Tan's camp did not return requests for interviews or statements.
And, a reliable source says Del Rosario is out of the country, being treated for cancer.
Laguna 3rd District Rep. Evita Arago had 22 sick leaves, but she explained she is on bed rest upon doctor's orders as she is experiencing a delicate pregnancy.
In a statement, Arago asserted this has not prevented her from discharging her duties as she continues to file bills and engage in district work. Arago sent a copy of her medical certificate to ABS-CBN News.
'Official business' leaves
Other congressmen who went on "official business" leaves from plenary are:
Juan Ponce Enrile Jr. (29)
Scott Lanete (21)
Jeffrey Ferrer, Ruben Ecleo, Joel Duavit, Narciso Bravo, and Christopher Co (20)
Of those who filed sick leaves, Arago had the most at 22, followed by Jose Aquino with 14 sick leaves.
Of the celebrity congressmen, former president, now Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo attended 38 and was on official business for 7 days.
Her son Mikey attended 28 and was on official business for 17.
Youngest son Dato was among those with perfect attendance while brother-in-law Iggy attended 33 sessions but was away on official business for 12 session days.
Imelda almost perfect attendance
Former First Lady Imelda Marcos attended all but 1 of the 45 sessions.
Rep. Lucy Torres had 4 absences, Lani Mercado had 5 absences, while Manny Pacquiao missed 12 plenary session days on official business.
Only 43 of the 283 Members of the House of Representatives or about 15% have been religiously attending plenary sessions of the 15th Congress in their 1st 6 months in office.
This is based on records released by House Speaker Sonny Belmonte for the 45 plenary session days from July 26 to December 15.
Plenary sessions are scheduled at 4 in the afternoon from Mondays to Wednesdays.
Unlike committee hearings with small groups of congressmen, plenary sessions are where the House of Representatives as a whole acts on pending business.
The 43 often present
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's youngest son, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Ignacio "Dato" Arroyo, and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte are among the 43.
The others are Representatives:
Rodolfo Albano Jr.,
Rachel del Mar,
Salvador Escudero III,
Castelo, for his part, said, "I'm just trying to be consistent with my sworn duty of serving the people. One of most important things is be visible not only outside but also in plenary. This will determine if you're doing your job. I make it a point to suspend outside activities so we can join in plenary discussions. It can be done and it should be done. I could surmise there are a lot of district affairs that will require my presence. I just try to sacrifice and explain and compensate."
Castelo also hopes his colleagues will not resort to absenteeism to avoid dealing with, if not derail, measures they oppose. Previously, congressmen would avoid sessions to ensure lack of quorum for controversial measures like the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
Most number of hearings
House Speaker Sonny Belmonte also previously listed the following House committees as those with most number of hearings, excluding Rules, and Appropriations committees: Transportation (15); Ways and Means (12); and, Energy (11).
The rules committee met 18 times, while Appropriations met 55 times over the course of the 2011 Budget deliberations.
The 2011 Budget was among the achievements of his 1st 6 months in office which Belmonte noted to the media.
So far, 4,697 bills and resolutions have been filed: 3916 are bills, 781 are resolutions, concurrent resolutions number 8, and joint resolutions number 13.
A total of 21 bills are on 3rd reading, 6 on second reading, 61 resolutions adopted, and 3 concurrent resolutions adopted including the amnesty concurrence resolution.