Political party reform bill stumped

Published by rudy Date posted on May 22, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — Despite gaining the support of congressmen and various non-government organizations (NGOs), the bill seeking urgent political party reforms has yet to hurdle committee approval due to questions raised on provisions requiring state financing and setting limits for campaign contributions.

In a recent hearing, political reform advocates called on the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to further study provisions that set limits to campaign contributions and state financing for political campaigns.

Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (PMP, Cagayan de Oro City) and Juan Edgardo Angara (LDP, Aurora), principal authors of the bill, are confident that the bill will get bipartisan support as soon as provisions of the committee has finished fine-tuning provisions of the bill.

Rodriguez said the measure seeks to professionalize the political party system in the country.

“There may be political groupings that only exist during elections, but disappear when the people need them most. The bill will establish political parties as the barometer of Philippine politics,” Rodriguez said.

Angara said the main objective of the measure is to tap parties to become a major factor in community development.

They aired hopes that the bill will put an end to the country’s “personality-oriented politics and patronage governance.”

Reps. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (Abante Mindanao) and Raymond Democrito Mendoza (TUCP Partylist) are also co-authors of the measure.

In the hearing, political analyst Ramon Casiple of the Consortium on Electoral Reforms warned that although the bill has noble intentions, it may face opposition over provisions that prohibit political turncoatism and sets a ceiling on campaign contributions.

Libertas Executive Director Robert Cadiz said the section allowing state contributions to political campaigns should be filed as a bill.

A separate bill providing for a P5-million campaign contribution cap has been filed by Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap.

Under the bill a state subsidy fund will be created to support accredited political parties and give poor but deserving candidates a chance to run for public office.

It also places political parties under the audit jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit (CoA).

Rodriguez Jr. explained the bill will ensure subsidies for parties but the money should be used for the intended purpose detailed by provisions of the measure.

“An across-the-board auditing and evaluating mechanism headed by the COA and the Commission on Elections will also be instituted to ensure that the parties comply with their mandates,” Rodriguez Jr. said.

Authors of the measure consider transparency and accountability ‘very important in guaranteeing good governance and continuity of programs for development.”

“The bill hold parties accountable to their word: their platforms and programs – by setting stiff penalties and disciplinary sanctions for non-performing or erring parties,” Rodriguez said. –BEN R. ROSARIO, Manila Bulletin

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