Two senators never late nor absent in sessions for past 2 years

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — Senate records show improvement in the attendance of lawmakers during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 19 out of 24 senators logging in for all of the chamber's hybrid plenary sessions over the past year.

But only seven senators consistently logged perfect attendance for more than two years into the 18th Congress, or from July 22, 2019 until August 25 this year.

Based on the latest available data from the chamber's Legislative Journal Service, senators with spotless attendance records are: Nancy Binay, Franklin Drilon, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, Joel Villanueva and Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri.

Sotto, the Senate President, and Zubiri, the Majority Leader, were never late nor absent for all the 144 sessions over the past two years. The other lawmakers sometimes arrived after the roll call.

"I'm accountable to those who trusted me with my position, therefore, it's incumbent upon me to work diligently come hell or high water," Sotto said in a statement.

The Senate President is tasked to preside over the 3:00 p.m. sessions. In his absence, the Senate President Pro Tempore, Senator Ralph Recto, can take over. During plenary sessions, lawmakers deliberate and vote on bills and proposed resolutions.

The Majority Leader, meanwhile, manages the Senate's legislative affairs.

"It's especially important for us to continue working in times of crisis like this pandemic, when people urgently need legislation to protect their health and livelihood," Zubiri said in a separate statement.

"As an elected official, I owe it to the people to show up and do my work, which is why I have kept a perfect record of attendance since I first served in the House of Representatives in 1998. And I will continue to do so," he added.

Absences

Senator and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao had ten absences, more than any of his colleagues, but eight of which were because he was in the United States for a title match. He was online for the plenary sessions but was marked absent because he was out of the country.

Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan incurred six absences -- four during the first regular session which ran from July 22, 2019 to June 4, 2020. Asked about this, Pangilinan told CNN Philippines he went on an official mission abroad in November 2019, which should have been marked as official business, not absences.

Senators Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Recto had four absences each, while Senators Pia Cayetano, Grace Poe, and Cynthia Villar had two each. Senators Richard Gordon, Panfilo Lacson, Imee Marcos, and Francis Tolentino had one absence each.

Meanwhile, Gordon filed five sick leaves. Dela Rosa had four, two each for Pacquiao, Pangilinan, and Lapid, and one for Cayetano.

Several senators also had to skip plenary sessions due to official missions here and abroad. Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima is always marked absent as she remains detained due to drug charges, that she says are trumped-up.

Here's a summary of lawmakers' attendance since the first regular session until the first eight days of the third regular session:

Senators' attendance in the 18th Congress

(July 22, 2019 to August 25, 2021)

PERFECT ATTENDANCE:

Sen. Nancy Binay

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Sen. Risa Hontiveros

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III

Sen. Joel Villanueva

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri

NEVER LATE, NEVER ABSENT:

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri

ABSENT:

Sen. Manny Pacquiao - 10 (8 of which he was online but abroad)

Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan - 6

Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III - 4

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto - 4

Sen. Pia Cayetano - 2

Sen. Grace Poe - 2

Sen. Cynthia Villar - 2

Sen. Richard Gordon - 1

Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson - 1

Sen. Imee Marcos - 1

Sen. Francis Tolentino - 1

SICK LEAVE:

Sen. Richard Gordon - 5

Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa - 4

Sen. Manny Pacquiao - 2

Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan - 2

Sen. Lito Lapid - 2

Sen. Pia Cayetano - 1

OFFICIAL MISSION:

Sen. Sonny Angara (1 local)

Sen. Pia Cayetano (1 local)

Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go (1 abroad)

Sen. Richard Gordon (1 abroad, 1 local)

Sen. Lito Lapid (2 local, 4 abroad)

Sen. Manny Pacquiao (1 local)

Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan (3 local)

Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr. (1 local, 3 abroad)