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Watching Pacquiao

The militant BAYAN-Bikol had been very critical of party list group AKO BICOL or AKB ever since the latter fielded itself in the last National and Local Elections of May 2010. Very obviously funded and well-connected, AKB had been charged by BAYAN-Bikol of being a “front” for erstwhile Malacañang occupant Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The numerous advertisements it had on TV, print, radio, and even the huge billboards AKB put up during the campaign period indeed proved that it had adequate funding. This was not so surprising as the fact that even before it won in the elections, AKB was the only party list group whose press releases were carried by government media outlets PIA and PNA, indicating that AKB (or at least people within it) was in “friendly terms” with the Arroyo regime.

Aside from AKB’s connection with the Arroyo administration, BAYAN-Bikol’s motive for opposing AKB at the time of the May 2010 Elections can also be viewed as due to the former’s cognizance that AKB’s triumph in the polls would entail BAYAN’s defeat. Simply put, AKB was poised to get the “Bikol votes” which were previously netted by BAYAN; and in fact, AKB did.

BAYAN-Bikol’s recent criticism of AKB Representatives Rodel Batocabe and Alfredo Garbin Jr. for being among the congressmen who flew to Las Vegas to watch Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao’s boxing match, however, is significantly cogent. Why leave for the US to watch live a Pacquiao match when your Sorsogon constituents are presently severely affected by Mt. Bulusan’s eruptions and are in dire need of medical and financial assistance, BAYAN-Bikol asked. 

We too ask the two AKO BICOL Representatives: why leave for a boxing match when your duties as duly-elected representatives require of you to attend sessions at Congress, one of which are scheduled on November 15, a Monday? Are you not being paid taxpayers’ money to be present in these sessions and participate meaningfully in them? Or are you being paid taxpayers’ hard-earned pesos to watch Manny Pacquiao fight live in Las Vegas?

With Congress reportedly being expected to approve the 2011 national budget amounting to P1.645-trillion, House Speaker Sonny Belmonte remarked that Congress’ sessions this week, beginning November 15,  “[are] a very critical time and I think it is necessary for me to be around.”

Those who flew to Vegas to watch Pacquiao’s fight think otherwise. Shame on them.