Measure vs turncoatism draws more flak in SenateBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to punish political turncoats and provide a state subsidy for political parties is drawing more criticism from within the Senate.
Senator Francis Escudero said Senate Bill No. 3214—also known as the Anti-Balimbing Bill—would give “undue advantage” to the administration party, in this case, the Liberal Party and other political groups allied with President Benigno Aquino III.
“Think about this: If that law is passed, members of the administration party cannot run if they leave the party or if they are removed or not chosen (for an electoral slate).
Section 13 of the measure states that an incumbent official who switches parties shall be “deemed to have forfeited” the office. The politician will also be disqualified from running in the next election and from being appointed to public office “for three years after the expiration of his or her current term.”
Another penalty would require a violator to “refund any and all amounts” received from the party and pay a 25-percent surcharge.
The bill defines political turncoatism as “the change of political party affiliation by any candidate within eight months prior to an election, whether or not elected, from the time he was first nominated.”
No violation shall exist if a member’s party has been abolished or coalesced with another group or if he or she has been expelled in writing, the bill also states.
Escudero was also against the idea of using public money to finance political parties under SB 3214.
“Of the many things the government could provide subsidies to perhaps political parties should be last,” he said in Filipino. “I can think of one million ways to spend that government subsidy other than for candidates.”
Under the proposed State Subsidy Fund, accredited political parties will get P350 million for “party development” and “campaign expenditures” such as “traveling expenses of the candidates and support personnel in the course of campaign and for personal expenses incident thereto.”
Senator Edgardo Angara, coauthor of the measure, defended SB 3214, saying it was intended to promote “strong and platform-based political parties.”
“Political parties and candidates should grow together in terms of crafting a vision and building a platform,” he said in a statement.
“Candidates 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.”