The recent failure by the Philippine Congress to ratify the Philippine Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reverberated in the various newspaper headlines. Whether it was the Businessworld, or Philstar, Inquirer, GMA News. The bigger headline should have been that the legislation was not passed – FOR LACK OF A QUORUM.
Absenteeism in Philippine Congress
In corporate terms this is what is referred to as an epic performance failure. In the Philippine Congress, this is called – just another day at “work”.
Out of 268 members, all that was needed was for 135 members (50%) to show up and pass the bill. Of the needed 135, only 128 were present – an attendance rate of 47%, or absenteeism of 53%.
If a company were operating in this manner, the board will have already gotten together and initiated right-sizing, trimming the fat, removing the waste, and proceeded to operate in a lean manner. After all, what’s the point in having excess carrying cost brought about by the excess idle bandwidth.
But knowing the Philippines predicament – there is an abundance of public-service activities which can use the bandwidth. Unfortunately for the country, it has juvenile board members who happen to have a poor judge of character and ability – but that’s another story.
The Cost of Absenteeism
Congressmen’s offices, staff, travel, pork barrel – all of this generate a cost. Now, we taxpayers are willing to shoulder the cost of having a congressman and an office under the understanding that legislation is supposed to be produced by the lawmaker.
In the business world – that is his core responsibility, his raison d’ etre – the thing which justifies his paycheck.
The Cost of Presenteeism
Of course, the issue of Abseenteeism comes in parallel with Presenteeism. In Presenteeism, the lawmaker shows up in office, even though lacking in lawmaking skills, leading to very low productivity – sounds familiar?
The congressman holds office, comes to the office, has staff, travels, has pork barrel – but has no legislation to show for it. If there were legislation – it is of a trivial type.
Both cases of Absenteeism and Presenteeism are a source of waste – and therefore are drivers of cost.
This seems a fitting end and beginning of a batch of the Philippine Congress – united in katamaran, laziness. It reflects the Filipino penchant for ningas-cogon by ending in a whimper, and impunity by not showing up jut because they didn’t feel like doing so.
This has got to stop.
What Can Be Done About Erring Absentee Legislators?
This absenteeism has got to stop. It’s like adding insult to injury. The dishonorable lawmakers of the Philippines – the dishonorable C ongressmen and the dishonorable Senators are already receiving tremendous perks despite not doing anything at all – the very least they can do is to at least show up for work!
Here’s what “- lawmakers who are fiscalizers” – you are being fiscalized, get back to work and stop wasting taxpayers money! But that’s just a slap in the wrist.
We need something more effective. Do you know that the executive and judicial branches of government have rules for impeachment and/or recall while there is no similar rules on legislators?
Don’t get angry – get even.
Maybe it is high time for a citizens initiative to amend the constitution allowing for the recall of Congressmen and Senators?
What do you think?
p.s. Stop voting for absentee congressmen!