House OKs bill giving political parties fundsBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
House Bill No. 6551, or the Political Party Development Act of 2012, would put in place a state subsidy fund to augment the campaign and party development expenses of political parties already represented in Congress.
The aim, according to lawmakers, is to level the playing field among political parties and promote financial transparency.
The measure comes at a time when political parties are receiving flak for perpetuating elite political dynasties by fielding scions and other relatives of entrenched politicians for the 2013 midterm elections.
The bill penalizes political turncoatism by disallowing politicians to change parties within six months prior to an election.
However, there is a qualification: This does not apply if the official’s party gets abolished or has coalesced or merged with other groups, or if the official is expelled from the party for reasons other than political opportunism.
The measure also limits the amount of voluntary contributions political parties can receive from individuals or groups, and requires parties and candidates to disclose the contributions.
Officials of accredited political parties would also be required to make public their assets and liabilities at least six months before the polls.
Proponents of the bill said these measures would institutionalize reforms in the financing of electoral campaigns and promote transparency and accountability, while also promoting party loyalty and discipline.
No specific amount for the political fund was given, but the bill states that 65 percent of it would be distributed proportionately to the political parties represented in the House of Representatives; 30 percent to parties in the Senate and the remaining five percent to the Commission on Elections to monitor party expenditures.