House implements ‘lockout’ roll call policy

July 25, 2017 - 6:05 PM
HOR plenary hall
Joint session of both chambers of Congress is held at the House of Representative plenary hall. Photo/Boy Santos, Philstar

MANILA, Philippines – The session hall was teeming with lawmakers at 4 p.m.

Outside, several other legislators were rushing to the main entrance, but found it already locked.

Starting July 25, the House of Representatives implemented a new rule, where all doors leading to the session hall would be locked and opened only after the roll call.

The new rule was “in line with our efforts to facilitate our plenary deliberations and daily roll call,” according to a memorandum issued by Majority Floor Leader and rules committee chairman Rodolfo Fariñas.

“Except those who are deemed present under Section 71 of our Rules, all members are enjoined to be at the session hall before 4 p.m., as those appearing after the roll call shall be marked absent.”

Earlier, Fariñas said the new rule was meant to encourage his colleagues to report to the session hall on time, so that they could be more productive in transacting business.

The roll was usually called an hour later than the 4 p.m. opening, to ensure there are enough members in the hall.

On Tuesday, July 25, a number of lawmakers tried to pass through the other doors, but found them locked as well. The attendance was 229. There are a total of 293 House members.

Section 71 (Attendance in Sessions) of the House Rules states that, “Every Member shall be present in all sessions of the House unless prevented from doing so by sickness or other unavoidable circumstances duly reported to the House through the Secretary General.”

It added, “While the House is in session, the following shall be deemed present: a. Members who are attending committee meetings as authorized by the Committee on Rules, in accordance with Section 35 hereof, upon written notification to the Secretary General by the concerned committee secretary; b. Members who are attending meetings of: b.1. The Commission on Appointments; b.2. The House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal; and b.3. Bicameral Conference Committees c. Members who are on official mission as approved by the Speaker.”