Political Parties Push for Urgent Passage of Political Party Reforms Bill

Centrist Democrats sign up

Representatives from political parties and other stakeholders vowed to support the urgent passage of the Political Party Development Bill at the recent Workshop-Conference on Political Party Reforms held at the G Hotel at the Waterfront in Manila.

“It is incumbent upon us to push for the immediate passage of the Political Party Development Bill if we are to have truly honest, free and credible elections next year,” says Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) President Lito M. Lorenzana, a former Undersecretary of the departments of natural resources and local government.

Lorenzana and other CDP officers and members signed the declaration: Jacque Dela Pena, secretary-general; Dr. Nenita Manongsong, Vice President-Luzon; and CDP members Gary Garay, Lily Lim and Atty. Richard Vallejo.

Participants of the workshop conference noted that the political party system in the Philippines remains “weak and personality-oriented rather than based on ideology, program and platform.” They recognized that these parties “are vital to strengthening Philippine democracy as they sustain popular support and build political constituencies for their party platforms and programs of governance.”

They also pointed out that “political parties play a crucial role in instituting and implementing policies to address the long-term needs of the people.” Lastly, they expressed the need “to strengthen the political party system in the country if we are to achieve genuine development and democratization.”

Thus, representatives from CDP and other political parties and stakeholders who participated in the workshop-conference on political party reforms agreed “to propose amendments to the current Senate and House versions of the Political Party Development Bill and harmonize their pertinent provisions.”

Among these amendments are the following:
· *To adopt the term “national political party” instead of all references to political parties;

· *To support a strong provision prohibiting Political Turncoatism with penalties;

· *To support the creation of a campaign finance department at the Commission on Elections (COMELEC);

· *To impose stricter and well-defined standards and parameters for the registration of political parties;

· *To allocate a major share of state support fund for political party development

· *To adopt an effective system for reasonable measures of allowable political party campaign contributions and expenditures together with strong penalties on violations.

They also agreed “to support the development of interparty discussion mechanisms that would promote wider space for democratic political participation and advance broad and meaningful citizen participation to support intraparty democracy and strengthen party linkages,” according to the declaration.

The workshop-conference was attended by Atty. Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr., the Chair of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC); Rep. Rufus Rodriguez who is the author of the bill, and representatives from both the Congress and the Senate; political parties such as National People’s Coalition (NPC), PDP-LABAN and Akbayan. There also were representatives from NGOs such as the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), the Center for Migrant Advocacy and Active Citizen Foundation (ACF); educational institutions such as De La Salle University and the Ateneo School of Government; the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER).

The activity was jointly convened by the sub-committee on Political Party Reforms of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Code Laws, the House Committee of Suffrage and Electoral Reform, COMELEC, and the Consortium on Political Party Reforms (CPPR).

CDP’s Secretary General Dela Pena concluded, “The passage of this political party reform bill will change the way politics is being done in the country since it aims to strengthen the political parties by promoting party loyalty and getting rid of patrons.”