By Charissa Luci-Atienza
With President Duterte’s “blessing,” the Anti-turncoatism bill has a chance to be enacted into law this 17th Congress, the chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms said.
Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna expressed confidence that the pet measure of Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be approved before the 17th Congress ends in June 2019.
He said the Lower Chamber will not think twice in passing the bill against political butterflies on second and third reading when Congress resumes session on November 12.
“Pagbalik natin, maka second reading at third reading. Ako sa tingin ko kaya natin ito sa Lower House. Lusot na lusot ito sa amin lalo na pet bill ito ni Speaker Arroyo at napakaganda talagang panukalang batas,” he said.
“Oo [it can still be approved]. Siyempre with the blessing of the President,” Tugna said.
The Tugna panel has passed and endorsed for plenary approval the still unnumbered substitute bill which seeks to strip political butterflies of their elective posts, and prohibit them from running again in the next scheduled election and from being appointed in public office.
“Hindi ko pa alam ang posisyon ng Malacañang pero siyempre si President Duterte naman eh naniniwala ako na anything that is good for the country, he will sign it into law,” Tugna said.
The House leader said he would ask his Senate counterpart, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, about the status of the measure.
“Kakausapin ko rin ‘yong counterpart ko sa Senate, ‘yong bagong kasal na si Sen. Koko Pimentel kung kailan nila ito mahi-hearing at kung kailan uusad sa kanilang committee,” he said.
Tugna noted that under the measure, politicians, including senators can only change their political party during the second year of their term to prevent them from taking advantage of the perks and resources of the new administration.
He said the measure will give “stability” in the political landscape and ensure the continuity of government policies and programs.
Covered by the bill are all political parties duly registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The substitute bill aims to institutionalize and strengthen political parties in the country by introducing reforms in campaign financing and providing financial subsidies to political parties to augment their expenditures for campaign.
Arroyo, one of the authors of the bill, said the measure aims to give importance to party ideals and policy agenda rather than political pragmatism and survival.
“Our history tells us that political parties in the Philippines are normally used only as political vehicles to win an election. Hence, most political aspirants change political parties for convenience, rather than conviction. This only shows the lack of ideology
commitment to the members of a party because they choose parties based on the rise and fall of the tide of opportunity,” she said.
Arroyo said “turncoatism” should never be encouraged nor tolerated since it only distorts the concept of word of honor and dignity of a leader.”
Other authors of the bill are Deputy Speaker and Capiz Rep. Fredenil “Fred” Castro, Cagayan De Oro City Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano.