Pacquiao sterling boxing champ, rookie PBA player-coach, terrific absentee lawmaker
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Pacquiao sterling boxing champ, rookie PBA player-coach, terrific absentee lawmaker

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So eight division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao gets to fight the “fight of the century” with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. onMay 2, 2015. And the Filipino people and the whole world cannot wait for this match that took six years to make.

Of course we put our bet on our very own National Fist, not Money-yabang-daming-excuses Mayweather.

But before that happens, let us just check out the major side careers of Pacquiao – never mind the showbiz and endorsement deals and stuff. Okay Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, brilliant as you think you are, we promise that we will be kind to the Pacman

Pro-basketball career

Pacquiao, using the think-of-me-first method, is also the oldest rookie in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). He got drafted (on a move devoid of any long-term team sense) by expansion team Kia Carnival and is in fact the team playing coach. Oh, may we ask, where did he get coaching lessons? PBA coaches must be very honored to have a rookie player – who has devoted most of his life to the boxing ring – coach a professional basketball team as an opponent. This is quite nice for the league and for basketball in the country. Quinito Henson and pro-basketball greats must be squirming in their seats.

The National Fist recently scored his first point in the pro league on a free throw. Happiness and hurray. But well, he got maligned by Purefoods’ import Daniel Orton who called Pacquiao a big joke. Orton got fined by the PBA for bad mouthing the referees and the host league. But well, Orton is also a bad joke of an import. The word is mediocre.

An old warrior rants

Former senator and human rights lawyer Rene Saguisag in December 2014 called for Pacquiao’s suspension from the House due to his dismal attendance record.

Saguisag revved up further in the Manila Times, Manilatimes saying that he was disappointed that “PBA chief Chito Salud should leave the PBA after leading it ably these last five years.” He opined that “Manny Pacquiao should leave the PBA after entering it as a rookie at 36 and did not make us forget Jimmy Alapag,” and that “he should run for governor in 2016, and Vice Governor Jinkee can act in his absence as there is no such thing as Vice Cong.”

A little update for our dear man Saguisag: tama po na walang Vice Cong. Pero meron pong Vice Ganda.

However, the highly informative website of Congress would seem to back up the Saguisag push for Pacquiao’s suspension.

Pacquiao, champion absentee legislator

Due to Pacquiao’s recent fight and more recent globetrotting, Pacquiao the legislator has become the shameful record of champion in number of absences in the House of Representatives. He was only present a total of four (yes, 4) times out of a total 70 session days for 2014 as reported by GMA NewsEven with the House not calling the roll for 3 days that deemed physically absent legislators, including Pacquiao, present, the National Fist has a total attendance record of seven days.

Pacquiao ended up in a tie with notorious absentee Rep. Julio “Jules” Ledesma IV Negros Occidental for seven out of a total of 70 session days for 2014.

In fairness to Pacquiao and for the information again of Saguisag, 25 of those unexcused absences were spent on “constituency work in the district.”

The current 16th Congress House Rules stipulate in Rule XI Section 71 that “every Member shall be present in all sessions of the House unless prevented from doing so by sickness or other unavoidable circumstances to the House through the Secretary General.” Okay. Fine.

But nothing in the rules specifies that training for a boxing match or going on foreign travel to watch an NBA game, and even going home to one’s constituents to spend one’s personal funds for projects supposed to be funded by government as under “unavoidable circumstances.”

Saguisag’s blood pressure would instantly shoot up if he gets to know that House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. recently set aside the institution’s rules in giving Pacquiao the green light to skip attending plenary sessions (and committee hearings too) so he can train for his May 2 fight with Mayweather

Aside from Pacquiao’s boxing record, Speaker Belmonte must be proud of the Sarangani Congresman’s legislative record so far: 12 House Bills and 2 House Resolutions authored and 23 measures of other legislators that he has co-authored.

Pacquiao has not been able to get any of his measures passed into law. The reason is obvious. He isn’t present to push legislation through.

Local trapo support, with warped reasoning

All the mayors of Sarangani rushed to the defense of their representative. In report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Glan town mayor Victor James Yap, president of the province’s municipal mayors’ league hit back at Saguisag: “who is he to ask for the suspension of our own representative? He is not even a voter of Sarangani.”

Yap (nope, he isn’t the same James Yap basketball star with the Italian girlfriend we know), then proclaimed that “Pacquiao has never been remiss of his duty as representative of their district.”

According to Yap, “Pacquiao has also been spending his own personal resources for housing and relocation projects, to support the education of around 2,500 poor yet deserving students and personally shouldered the entire P12-million budget for the centennial foundation anniversary fete of Glan town.”

Pacquiao himself, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he has been spending around P20 million a year out of his own pocket to give his constituents medical assistance.

Apparently, Pacquiao is doing what almost all of traditional politicians are doing: cultivating patronage politics that isn’t part of the duties of a lawmaker. Oh well.

As what Bob Guerrero laid down in his blog entry “Why Manny in the PBA is symbolic of what’s wrong with our country” “Pacquiao has… basically us(ed) his fame, wealth, connections, and star value to jump the line and get ahead of all of these players and coaches who have dedicated their lives to the game (of basketball). I wonder what all those players undrafted by the PBA feel about him making it while they miss out.”

In the dizzied juggling of his boxing, media, basketball and legislative careers, it is obvious that indeed, being a congressman is just a side job for Pacquiao.

His being a legislator who is not physically present to fulfill the most basic of his duties as a lawmaker merits a second look by the House leadership, fight of the century or not.

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