Political Parties Agree on Reform Bill

Political parties in the Philippines gathered on August 10-12, 2012 in Manila to discuss the Political Party Development Act of 2011 (PPDA) that is currently pending in Congress. The workshop-conference, in its Declaration, tried to consolidate the House and the Senate versions particularly on the definition of turncoatism, called for stricter and well-defined standards and parameters for the registration of political parties, and proposed to include incentives and disincentives to ensure its implementation.

“The Philippines will never attain political maturity not unless we stop basing political parties on personalities but rather look at their ideological stance,” said Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brilliantes who opened the plenary session. The campaign for party reform was initiated 10 years ago, but the bill never gets through the third reading in Congress to pass as a law. The bill seeks to a) promote accountability and transparency through institutionalizing reforms in financing electoral campaigns; b) provide financial subsidies to political parties in order for them to augment their expenditures for campaign purposes and for the improvement of their party; c) impose party loyalty and discipline; and d) encourage and support the ongoing voter’s education and civic literacy programs.

Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) Executive Director Ramon Casiple emphasized that the bill is another step towards good governance. National Institute for Policy Studies (NIPS) Board Member Dr. July Teehankee supported this. “The political system has ‘clientelistic cluster networks’ that result in a complicated relationship of patron-client and towards a weak citizen-party linkage. Political patronage can be avoided through state subsidy,” he said.

Representatives from the Liberal Party (LP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Centrist Democratic Party (CDP), Akbayan, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) as well as from the Senate and the House of Representatives, Commission on Elections, and political institutes were present at the event. It was co-sponsored by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, a German liberal foundation.