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Pacquiao, De Lima skip orientation for neophyte senators

(Philstar.com) - June 27, 2016 - 3:20pm

MANILA, Philippines (Philippines News Agency) – Senators-elect Manny Pacquiao and Leila de Lima failed to attend the orientation for new senators on Monday.

Pacquiao’s Chief of Staff Kit Mercado explained that the outgoing Sarangani congressman had to fly to General Santos City to attend a meeting with local government officials.

”We don’t know the concern [that made him go] there, but he is supposed to be really here,” Mercado told the media.

Pacquiao earlier promised to erase his tag as one of the members of Congress who missed the most sessions.

Meanwhile, De Lima reportedly claimed she was previously briefed, one-on-one, by a Senate official.

The neophyte senators and their staff were briefed about legislative work, maintenance, salaries and security in the Senate.

The three other incoming senators – Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian attended the orientation held at the Recto Room.

Gatchalian, a congressman for 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 Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, two aspirants for Senate president, both offered him the chairmanship of the Senate committee on labor.

The former TESDA director-general 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 returning senators 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 former Senators Francis Pangilinan, Panfilo Lacson, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Richard Gordon.

Completing the 24-member Senate in the 17th Congress are Pimentel and Cayetano and 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, Cynthia Villar, Antonio Trillanes IV.

The 17th Congress is set to hold a joint session on July 27 where President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his first State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

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