By Jovee Marie Dela Cruz, November 5 2018; Business Mirror
Image Credit to Manila Bulletin
TO stop political butterflies during and after election period, the chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on Sunday said the lower chamber plans to pass the anti-turncoatism bill into law before the 17th Congress.
Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) Party-List Rep. Sherwin N. Tugna said the measure will be passed on second and third reading when Congress resumes session on November 12.
According to Tugna, the panel chairman, the unnumbered bill substituted four measures, including House Bill (HB) 697. The latter was principally authored by former President-turned-Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and envisions changing the norm of having political butterflies during and after election period.
He added the bill can be approved, especially with the support of Malacañang.
“Yes it can still be approved [when session resumes]…with the blessing of the President,” Tugna said.
For her part, Arroyo said the proposal aims to give importance to party ideals and policy agenda rather than political pragmatism and survival.
She said that “turncoatism” should never be encouraged nor tolerated since it only distorts the concept of word of honor and dignity of a leader.”
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.
Under the bill, any member of a political party wanting to change affiliation after being elected on the party’s ticket should first resign from his elective position and seek a fresh mandate from the electorate.
Likewise, defecting persons can neither be appointed nor hold any position in any public office until after the expiration of the term within which they were elected.
The bill covers political parties duly registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
It mandates political parties to craft a clear policy agenda and program of governance consistent with their party philosophy and ideals. Each party shall formulate a system of nomination and selection of candidates, in which all party members are involved.
THE bill said voluntary contributions to any political party shall be limited to the following maximum amount: 1) up to P1 million from a natural person; 2) up to P10 million from a juridical person shall be allowed to make a volunteer contribution under existing laws; and 3) any contribution in cash or in kind to a political party for campaign purposes, duly reported to the Comelec, shall be exempt from donor’s tax.
The bill also mandates the creation of a State Subsidy Fund (SSF), which shall be used directly and exclusively for party development and campaign expenditures of accredited national political parties, such as 1) party administration, recruitment and civic education; 2) research and policy development; 3) education and training of members; 4) institution building and constituent outreach program; 5) other reasonable logistical and operational expenses that are essential in strengthening the party; 6) operating and traveling expenses; 7) information dissemination, advocacy campaigns, production and distribution of electoral paraphernalia; and 8) other expenditures under Section 102 of the Omnibus Election Code.
Moreover, the bill provides that the SSF shall be distributed as follows: 1) 5 percent shall be used exclusively for monitoring purposes and the conduct of information dissemination campaigns and voter’s education; 2) 30 percent shall be proportionately and ratably distributed to accredited political parties represented in the Senate based on the number of seats obtained in the most recent general elections; and, 3) 65 percent shall be proportionately and ratably distributed to accredited political parties in the House of Representatives based on the number of seats obtained in the most recent general elections.
The measure also mandates the Comelec to be the independent regulatory agency charged with administering and enforcing the provisions of the Act.
The bill mandates the creation of a Political Party and Campaign Finance Department within the Comelec.