Three lawmakers on Sunday came to the defense of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose family members are seeking local elective positions in the 2019 mid-term polls.
Manila City Rep. Manny Lopez, and Ako Bicol Representatives Rodel Batocabe and Alfredo Garbin defended the President’s family from criticism that too many family members are running for public office next year.
“Real power emanates from the people. For as long as the sovereign will of the people is not subverted, we cannot do anything about it [having family members running],” Lopez said.
“Let these observations be an election issue and submit the same to our electorate,” said Batocabe, the president of the Party-list Coalition.
“These are all elected in a democratic process so you cannot blame them,” Garbin said.
“I think what we should do is to empower the electorate by providing them an informed choice and amend the Constitution to return to the two-party system,” he added.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte shrugged off criticisms that her family is building a political dynasty when she sought reelection, and that her brother, former vice mayor Paolo Duterte, filed his certificate of candidacy for the congressional race.
The youngest Duterte sibling, Sebastian, also will run as vice mayor.
Meanwhile, Citizens Battle Against Corruption Rep. Sherwin Tugna, House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, on Sunday said he is batting for the passage of a proposed law to strengthen the political party system.
He said his panel recently approved the bill to disallow a politician from running again in the next scheduled election and to ban him or her from being appointed to a public office should he or she transfer to another political party one year after their election and one year before the next scheduled poll.
“Under Section 13, these are the penalties for political turncoatism,” he said in an interview on radio dzBB.
“There is no corresponding imprisonment. The only penalty is disqualification to run in the next scheduled election,” Tugna said.
Under the measure, Tugna said politicians, including senators, could only be allowed to change their political party during the second year of their term.
House Bill No. 697, if passed, would bring stability to the country, Tugna said.
The bill’s author, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said the bill would give importance to party ideals and policy agenda rather than political pragmatism and survival.
“Our history tells us that political parties in the Philippines are normally used only as political vehicles to win an election. Hence, most political aspirants change political parties for convenience, rather than conviction. This only shows the lack of ideological commitment to the members of a party because they choose parties based on the rise and fall of the tide of opportunity,” she said.
“Turncoatism must never be encouraged nor tolerated since it only distorts the concept of word of honor and dignity of a leader,” the former president said.