• Manny Pacquiao and Leila De Lima failed to attend the orientation for neophyte senators
• Pacquiao and De Lima cited conflict of schedule as reason for their absence
• Sherwin Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros were the only neophyte senators who attended the briefing
Senators-elect Manny Pacquiao and Leila de Lima were absent during the orientation for neophyte senators conducted on Monday, June 27; three days before officially assuming office on June 3.
Only Senators-elect Sherwin Gatchailan, Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros among the five newbie senators were present at the briefing given by the Senate Secretariat.
Pacquiao and De Lima’s camps both claimed conflict of schedule as the reason for their absence. Instead, they sent their respective staff to attend the orientation.
Leila de Lima, former Justice Secretary, said she sent a team headed by her Chief of Staff.
“I have a sked conflict. So, I just sent a team headed by my CoS (chief of staff),” de Lima said in a text message. The former Justice Secretary claimed that she was already briefed, one-on-one, by a senate official.
Pacquiao’s Chief of Staff, Kit Mercado, said the neophyte senator could not attend the orientation because it coincided with his prior commitment to meet with some local officials in General Santos City.
Known as having one of the most dismal attendance records in the House of Representative when he was still a Congressman, Pacquiao vowed to have “perfect attendance” once he starts his term as a senator.
As mentioned by Maila Ager on her article for Inquirer, the Senate Secretariat briefed the new senators and their staff about the legislative work in the chamber, including maintenance, security and their salaries.
Gatchalian described the orientation as “helpful and 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,” he said.