Philippine gov’t 101 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 28 November 2014 12:07



When I was a student in the Graduate School ( Department of Chemistry) at the University of Texas (Austin) many years ago all foreign students then were required to sit in a one-semester class in American Government. That requirement may have been changed since then but I do not regret having had to sit through the course. At least I learned how the American government operates in its governance of the country.

I do not know if in the Philippines we require students in the bachelors’ and graduate levels to sit in a course on Philippine government. If we do not perhaps we should.

I say this because it is often said that citizens of the Philippines are only very lightly engaged or even interested in how their government works. How can we really be engaged if we do not know how things are supposed to go anyway?

Take the matter of attendance in the sessions of the House of Representatives (or of the Senate, for that matter). I need to know how many times a member of the House may be absent from working sessions of the House and how those absences are treated. I tried to google this topic but I could only see the section below as relevant, although hugely inadequate, to the question I was interested in.

Sec. 34. Attendance in Sessions. Every Member shall be present in all the sessions of the House unless necessarily prevented from doing so by sickness or other unavoidable circumstances duly reported to the House, through the Secretary General.

Let us take the case of Mr. Emmanuel Pacquiao who is the representative of Saranggani but who uses significant days training and preparing for his boxing bouts which bring him millions of pesos each time, whether he wins or loses. Does he get paid during these absences? Should he be paid? Should he in fact continue to be a member of the House since it seems he has little time to carry out his duties? He might be bringing honor to the Philippines through his feats in boxing but he is not in the House for these feats.

Or let us take the cases of Messrs. Enrile, Revilla and Estrada who are now in detention for their roles in the pork barrel scam. Most certainly they are not attending the regular sessions of the Senate. Nor is Madam Gloria Arroyo attending the sessions of the House for the same reason. Do these people continue to get their respective compensations? And do their respective office staffs continue to get paid since their work superiors are not there to carry out their regular duties as senators/representative? There is a provision that if a member of House/Senate is suspended this is only for 60 days. What is then the status of Madam Gloria Arroyo who has been in detention for more than 60 days?

If there is a reader who can help me with these questions please do send me your thoughts care of the DZT Editor.