MANILA—Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao, who promised to erase his tag as one of the most absentees in the House of Representatives, was a no show in the orientation for new senators on Monday.
Pacquiao’s Chief of Staff Kit Mercado explained that the outgoing Sarangani congressman has to fly to General Santos City to attend a meeting with local government officials.
”We don’t know the concern of he’s there, but he is supposed to be really here,” Mercado told the media.
Incoming Senator Leila de Lima was also absent in the orientation where the neophyte senators and their staff were briefed about the legislative work, maintenance, salaries and security in the Senate.
De Lima reportedly claimed she was previously briefed, one-on-one, by a Senate official.
The three other incoming senators – Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian have attended the orientation held at the Recto Room.
Gatchalian, a congressman of Valenzuela City, described the orientation as “very informative.”
”Mostly house rules. At least we knew already the dos and don’ts so that we can maximize our work like bill drafting service. It is important that we should be informed from the beginning,” Gatchalian said.
Meanwhile, Villanueva told the media that he was offered by both Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, two aspirants for Senate president, to head the Senate committee on labor.
Villanueva said he will join the majority bloc which is eyeing Pimentel as Senate president in the 17th Congress.
The five neophyte senators along with seven re-elected and comebacking senators have won in the last May 9 polls.
The re-elected senators include incumbent Senate president Franklin Drilon, deputy minority leader Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and comebacking Senators Francis Pangilinan, Panfilo Lacson, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Richard Gordon.
Completing the 24-member Senate contingent in the 17th Congress include Senators Grace Poe, Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara, Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV, Nancy Binay, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Gregorio Honasan II, Loren Legarda, Pimentel III, Cynthia Villar, Antonio Trillanes IV and Cayetano.
The 17th Congress is set to open on July 25 in a joint session where President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his first state-of-the-nation-address (SONA) at the House of Representatives at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.