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MANILA, Philippines -- Senators have expressed mixed reactions on the proposed bill seeking to strengthen the political system in the country.
Senator Edgardo Angara pushed on Thursday for the passage of Senate Bill 3214 known as the "Political Party Development Act" or "Anti-Balimbing Act", which is vital to promoting a mature democracy and is aligned with the good governance thrust of the administration.
”The party system in the Philippines is chaotic. Even with a multi-party system like ours, it is possible to have alliances so that ultimately, only two teams are facing off. We should have political parties with clear ideals, programs and platforms that we can weigh instead of just choosing the most popular candidate," said Angara.
Aside from Angara, co-authors of the bill in the Senate include Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Franklin Drilon.
The bill seeks to institutionalize a strong party system in the country and promote transparency in campaign financing.
It also establishes a "Party Development Fund" which will supplement the operating funds of accredited political parties for party development and campaign expenditures.
Political parties will be accredited based on the following criteria: political representation, organizational strength and mobilization capability, and performance and track record of the party, according to Angara.
"Once this measure is passed, political turncoats would be prohibited from running for any position in the following elections, and will be disqualified from appointment to any public office for three years after the expiration of their term," he said.
They will also be disqualified from holding any administrative or executive position in the new party, and will be directed to refund all amounts received from the previous party.
"Political parties and candidates should grow together in terms of crafting a vision and building a platform. Candidate should have conviction because that will reflect on how they will lead once elected. Disciplined and loyal candidates are the mark of a mature democracy," Angara said.
Meanwhile, Senators Francis "Chiz" Escudero and Serge Osmena III gave the proposed measure the cold shoulder, saying passing the measure will create undue advantage to any party with the present administration.
”That’s my downside reservation on the bill,” Escudero said.
Escudero specifically opposed a provision of the bill that grants subsidy to the political parties.
”The government has too many priorities that should first be given subsidy. Political parties should be the least among the priorities of the government,” he said.
For his part, Osmena opposed a provision banning an indidividual to run in the election if he or she changes political party.
”You will penalize somebody from going from Liberal to Nacionalista? Why? I don’t understand that. Now the reason those people who are pushing it, is because they are already control of a party, they will keep you captive. That’s why I don’t join party. I’m independent,” he said.
Osmena said punishment should be within the party and “not the government who is punishing.”
The bill is pending for second reading at the Senate with Angara hoping to pass it when Congress resumes next month.