Lawmakers from different parties on Saturday expressed support to the proposal of Constitutional Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to draft Charter changes to effect the shift to the federal form of government to ban political turncoatism two years before and after an election.
“I fully support this proposal. Strengthening the political party system and preventing turncoatism should be at the cornerstone of any political reform under Cha-Cha,” Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, a member of the opposition, said.
Alejano lamented that the loyalties of politicians are often dependent on the personalities in power, and not on the platform and principles of the political parties.
“By banning political turncoatism, political parties become more relevant and the electorate can start becoming more judicious on party platforms and ideologies,” Alejano said.
Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin also frowned on political turncoatism.
He said that even without Charter change, Congress can enact a law that will ban “political butterflies.”
“What we need are ideological parties with real programs that can sustain the needed political and electoral reforms for a modern democracy. This is also a pre-requisite to a shift to a federal parliamentary system. At present, what we have are pseudo-political parties controlled by the elite,” Villarin, an oppositionist, said.
Administration allies Reps. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City, Albee Benitez of Negros Occidental and Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte said banning political turncoatism will strengthen the country’s political party system.
“I will support it. It will strengthen our party system,” Evardone said.
Tambunting, for his part, said, “We support all efforts to provide stability in our political system. These reforms, including the proposed anti-dynasty provisions, will ensure the establishment of clear party lines that are based on issues and advocacies. This will go a long way in helping our democracy to mature.”
Benitez also echoed a similar view.
“It is a welcome proposal. It will also address the issue of minority president,” Benitez said.
Meanwhile, Barbers pushed for the passage of his House Bill 7431, which covers not only elective officials who change their party affiliations, but also independent and party-list candidates.
Barbers’ bill provides a penalty of automatic forfeiture of public office for violators.
Barbers said his bill also covers lawmakers who would create their own party-list groups for convenience, and party-list group members who jump from one group to another.
HB 7431 proposes to prevent an elected official from switching parties during his or her term; a candidate from switching parties within one year preceding an election and within one year following the election if they lose; an independent or party-list group member from joining any political party within a year following an election he or she participated in, whether he or she won or lost; and an elected official, after resigning from his or her party, from joining another party within one year immediately preceding or following an election.