(PHOTO AT LEFT - FELICIANO "Sonny" BELMONTE, JR. Speaker of the House of Representatives (2010 - Present)]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 12, 2010 (STAR) By Jess Diaz - At least 14 members of the House of Representatives are bound for the United States this weekend and will probably watch the fight between Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Antonio Margarito.

“Some 14 have travel authority to the US at their own expense. They may miss one or two sessions,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in a text message to reporters yesterday. Belmonte himself had planned to go to Dallas, Texas to extend moral support to Pacquiao but cancelled his plan because Congress resumed session last Monday.

The 14 who are US-bound this week are in addition to several House members who traveled to America during the three-week break and who have not yet returned and who might watch the Dallas fight.

Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II earlier said those who would watch the fight would be marked absent from the sessions.

Rep. Florencio Noel of the party-list group An Waray, who chairs the committee on accounts, said those who are flying to the US are not getting any money from the House.

“That was the condition imposed by the Speaker. They would get their TA (travel authority) but not any allowance from the House. I am not signing any disbursement voucher in connection with their travel,” he said.

His committee manages the funds of the House. Noel also said many of those who had earlier planned to go to Dallas have chosen to stay here.

“I myself was invited by Manny (Pacquiao) to go there, together with Sonny Angara (of Aurora), Timi Chipeco (of Laguna) and Carol Jane Lopez (of the party-list group You Against Corruption and Poverty), but we informed him we may not make it because of the sessions,” he said.

He revealed that some of those who have TAs to the US were still here as of yesterday.

“I know that Mark Sambar (of the party-list group Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta) and Cesar Jalosjos (of Zamboanga del Norte) are still here,” he added.

The Pacquiao camp earlier told Filipino journalists covering the Dallas fight that they have invited more than 50 congressmen to watch the Filipino boxing champion’s match with Margarito.

As of yesterday, a list released by Pacquiao’s Dallas staff showed that they were expecting only 27 to make it. Their list still included Belmonte, who has already cancelled his planned trip.

Others in the list were Jalosjos, Sambar, Rodante Marcoleta of Alagad, Tomas Osmeña of Cebu, Gina de Venecia of Pangasinan, Erico Basilio Fabian of Zamboanga City, Gabriel Quisumbing of Cebu, Evelyn Mellana of Agusan del Sur, Rodolfo Antonino of Nueva Ecija, Antonio Alvarez of Palawan, Roger Mercado of Leyte;

Albert Garcia of Bataan, Roberto Puno of Antipolo City, Rommel Amatong of Compostela Valley, Jose Aquino II of Agusan del Norte, Yevgeny Vincent Emano of Misamis Oriental, Ramos Durano of Cebu, Ana Cristina Go of Isabela, Mitos Magsaysay of Zambales, Susan Yap of Tarlac, Jose Benjamin Benaldo of Cagayan de Oro City, Mylene Albano of Davao City, Arnel Ty of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association of the Philippines, Dakila Cua of Quirino, and Owen Singson of Ilocos Sur.

The list also included a certain Pido Garin, who is not a congressman.

Rep. Albano of Davao City, according to her husband, former Isabela congressman and now Vice Gov. Rodolfo Albano III, is not flying to Dallas.

Not qualified yet

Meanwhile, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said Pacquiao is too young and will have to wait 12 years before he can qualify to run for president.

Barzaga was commenting on Pacquiao’s interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” a top TV news program in the US, where the pound-for-pound king revealed he was not ruling out the possibility of running for president. Correspondent Bob Simon interviewed Pacquiao ahead of his fight against Margarito for the vacant World Super Welterweight title at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

He said Pacquiao is only 31 years old and the Constitution mandates that no person may be elected president unless he or she is at least 40 years of age on election day.

Thus he is barred from running for president in 2016, when he will only be 37 on election day of that year, he said.

He said Pacquiao could not run for vice president either, since the post has the same minimum age requirement as that of president.

Pacquiao was born on Dec. 17, 1978 in Kibawe, Bukidnon. He will not turn 40 until December 17, 2018, or two years after the next presidential elections .

“The earliest Manny could meet the minimum age requirement to run for president would be in the 2022 elections, or 12 years hence,” Barzaga said.

“Manny cannot even run for senator in the 2013 mid-term polls, because on election day that year he will only be 34, and turn 35 only seven months later,” he said.

Under the Constitution, Barzaga said the minimum age requirement for a person to qualify to run for senator is at least 35 years on election day.

He said Pacquiao could, however, easily finish two consecutive terms as a member of Congress representing the lone district of Sarangani, and then at 37 years old qualify to run for senator in the 2016 elections.

“After serving a full six-year term as a senator, Manny can then run either for president or vice president in 2022,” Barzaga said.

Pacquiao is on his first three-year term as a member of Congress.

“Should he decide to seek higher office later on, Manny’s distinct advantage is he is young. Time is on his side. He’s bound to outlive many of the country’s present-day political figures, who are mostly in their 40s, 50s or 60s,” he said. Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, for his part, said Pacquiao’s constituents are suffering because their congressman is spending much of his time training.

He said Pacquiao’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel might not be enough for him to fulfill his promises to his constituents, such as building a P500-million hospital.

“How can you serve full-time if you are practicing for a concert and your focus is boxing?” With Paolo Romero and Evelyn Macairan

MARGARITO MOCKS ROACH PARKINSON'S SHAKES: ROACH: IT  AIN'T FUNNY By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated November 12, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (3) View comments

[Photo is loading... Manny Pacquiao, right, listens to his trainer Freddie Roach, left, during a news conference Wednesday. AP]

(STAR) DALLAS – Antonio Margarito tried to wash his hands Wednesday after a video of him and his training partner mocking Freddie Roach, who has Parkinson’s disease, appeared on the Internet.

“He was making no fun of it (Roach’s Parkinson’s),” said Top Rank’s Ricardo Jimenez as he stood beside Margarito and served as translator for the 32-year-old fighter who faced the media.

In the short video, taken a few weeks back in Oxnard, Margarito and Brandon Rios were shown, apparently or otherwise, mocking Roach who shakes uncontrollably at times because of the disease.

“When I was shaking my hand I was saying I’m really scared of Manny Pacquiao. And people misunderstood that. It was a misunderstanding. I respect him as a great trainer,” said Margarito.

The video was all over the different boxing websites, and Roach said he didn’t like what he saw.

“I didn’t like it,” he said during the final press conference for Saturday’s big fight.

“I had trouble sleeping last night. I want to fight all those guys myself, but I’m too old. I’ll never talk to any of those guys again,” he was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying.

“This shows who those guys are. What I have is something boxers attain when they get hit a lot, like Margarito does. I hope he doesn’t get this,” said Roach, who fought for nearly a decade.

Margarito was asked why it had come to a point when both camps appeared to be disliking each other when everything started out smoothly.

“We were friendly (at the start) but they were saying a lot of stuff about ours, too,” said Margarito, mocked by Roach himself many days ago when he climbed the ring during training wearing armored gloves.

It was obviously in reference to Margarito’s illegal handwraps for the Shane Mosley fight in 2009, the ugly incident that led to a one-year suspension for the native of Tijuana.

“It’s normal. It’s been a long promotion and we’re bouncing back and forth but it’s nothing. It’s a sport and we’re gonna fight on Saturday, and then move on,” he said.

His chief trainer, Robert Garcia, apologized to Roach during the press conference, but the legendary trainer never seemed to listen.

“There’s one thing I want to clear up before it gets bitter. Two of my fighters made fun of Freddie Roach but it has nothing to do with Freddie’s disease,” said Garcia, “because that I wouldn’t allow in my gym.”

“I talked to Brandon Rios this morning and told him everybody’s thinking that we’re laughing at people with the disease, and he said he didn’t know Freddie has it,” he added.

Again, Roach isn’t buying.

“It is unreal that they said they didn’t know I have Parkinson’s. Everyone knows I have Parkinson’s,” he said.

“I won’t speak to him ever in my life.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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