By Hannah Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said the recent power struggle in the House of Representatives only bolstered his belief there is a need to strengthen the political party system in the country.
Drilon said reports of party-switching among members of the ruling Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) following Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ascension as House Speaker and successfully ousting Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez from the leadership makes passage of the Senate Bill No. 226 very timely.
Drilon is referring to SB No. 226 or the Political Party System Act, which he authored, and is among the bills pending in Congress. The measure aims to promote party loyalty, discipline and adherence to ideological principles, platforms, and programs.
“The episode in the House of Representative necessitates and justifies the passage of a political party system act,” Drilon said at the Kapihan sa Senado on Thursday.
“We should pass legislation which will govern the political party in our system. Look at that, you know in a more mature democracy with a more mature political party system, that would not happen,” Drilon said.
As far as he is concerned, Drilon said he believes what happened in the House of Representatives is “simply local politics translated and transformed into the national scene.”
“How did it start? With the quarrel between Congressman Antonio Floirendo Jr. and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. And then the regional party was formed, and it is an open secret that behind it was Mayor Sarah Duterte-(Carpio) and Congressman Floirendo and eventually there was an exchange of words and attacks between the two. Speaker Alvarez said that the regional party was part of the opposition and Inday Sarah said that, quoting Alvarez, that he had the capacity to impeach the President,” Drilon recalled.
“So there is a demonstration that the removal of Speaker Alvarez had nothing to do with any policy, or Cha-Cha (Charter change)—nothing to do with all of that, it is all local politics,” he said.
“So you know, you heard Malacanang saying, ‘maybe it is because of the advocacy of Alvarez for No-election (No-el).’ That could not have been the reason, as 84 congressmen would benefit from no elections in May.
“So that is not logical, and I would repeat, there is no difference in policy involved, it is all local politics and some events that transpired which shows that the change in leadership was all rooted in local politics and Speaker Macapagal-Arroyo became the beneficiary of that,” Drilon said when asked of his assessment of the intramurals at the House.
Drilon added he doubts that President Rodrigo Duterte was not aware of the reorganization.
“It is my view that what prompted the change is more of local politics than a policy difference… Such a major political move, the congressmen assumed, could only be done with the clearance of the President,” he said.
“If the reports were true, I don’t think Mayor Sarah Duterte would work on the change of the leadership without, at the very least, the knowledge of the President. That is the reality that we face. That is not only true today, that is also true for the past administrations and Congresses,” he added.
He further said politicians switching sides every now and then “does not surprise him anymore.”
“I am not worried about that because after 2019 there will be again a lot of changing parties. You know, this political party system is so weak that the reports politicians bolting from one party to another is nothing new to me anymore,” Drilon said.
“This only shows the lack of ideological commitment of the members of the party because they choose parties based on the rise and fall of the tide of opportunity,” he added.
The measure, he said, primarily penalizes political turncoats by disallowing them to run under any political party for any elective position in the next succeeding election after they changed party affiliations.
“Political parties in our country are normally used as political vehicles to win an election. Our political party system is centered on personalities rather than ideology and political platform,” Drilon said in the bill’s explanatory note.