By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan sought Thursday to institutionalize and strengthen political parties of the Philippines as pillars of the country’s democratic system by filing a bill seeking to, among other things, disqualify political turncoats from office.
Pangilinan, Liberal Party (LP) president, said his Senate Bill 421, the Political Party System Act, seeks to create a state subsidy fund for political parties to enable them to build meaningful political identities, policy-based platforms and agenda, and internal democratic structures.
“If we are to encourage a bigger part of the electorate to be critical thinkers and have informed positions on issues that affect the country, we need to establish a credible political party system where people who have the same ideologies and advocacies can work toward the promotion of said beliefs. Dapat tayong lumayo sa trapo politics (We must move away from personality and patronage politics),” Pangilinan said.
Aside from providing state subsidies to political parties, the bill seeks the following reforms on the political party system:
- Make campaign finance more transparent;
- Prohibit political turncoatism;
- Strengthen citizen-parties linkages
“If political parties are state-funded, the public can demand accountability and transparency from parties and candidates. Political turncoatism shall be a ground for the disqualification of candidates, while parties that accept turncoats shall be disqualified from receiving the state subsidy. Moreover, party-members shall be required to uphold the values and ethical standards on their public lives,” Pangilinan stressed.
Pangilinan said that unless there is a clear ideological line that separates our political parties from one another and politicians are free to jump ship from one party to another out of convenience, we will be stuck in the brand of politics that is plaguing our country today.