SEPT.

12, 2013

NR # 3224B

Political parties to be subsidized by the government
Political parties will soon be subsidized by the government under the proposed Party Development Fund in a bid to reform the country’s political party system. Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District Pampanga), author of House Bill 308, said the political parties will get the funds to finance their operational expenses during and after any political exercise. Arroyo said the proposed funding can also be utilized for party building and development programs of the political parties. “We must veer away from the concept of traditional politics which is confined to personalities rather than issues and political platform. There have been many attempts in the past, but the lack of legal institutional framework spelled their demise during the previous Congresses,” Arroyo said. The bill, co-authored by Rep. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2 nd district, Camarines Sur), defines political party as an organized group of persons pursuing the same ideology, political ideas or platforms of government and includes its branches and divisions. The 2007 data on national and local elections shows that there were 18 political parties which participated in the national elections while 93 participated in the party-list elections. “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 because of conviction,” Arroyo said. Under the bill, any member of the party wanting to change their party affiliation after being elected on said party’s ticket, should first resign from his elective position and must seek a fresh mandate from the electorate. Likewise, defecting persons cannot be appointed nor hold any position in any public office, till after the expiration of the term within which they were elected. “Turncoatism or political butterflies should never be encouraged nor tolerated since it only distorts the concept of word of honor and dignity of a leader,” Arroyo said. Meanwhile, House Bill 389 authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2 nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez (Party-list, Abante Mindanao) seeks to institutionalize and strengthen political parties in the country by introducing reforms in

campaign financing and provide financial subsidies to political parties to augment their expenditures for campaign. To further empower and professionalize political parties in the country, Rodriguez proposes exemption of voluntary contributions from any person, subject to a certain cap, from the payment of donor’s tax. Rodriguez proposes penalties on giving voluntary contributions beyond the allowable limits set by law, to promote transparency and performance of mandate free from vested interest. Rodriguez said aside from levelling the playing field or the political arena, the major intent of the bill is to institutionalize reforms in the financing of electoral campaigns to promote accountability and transparency. Likewise, Rodriguez said the bill provide financial subsidies to political parties to augment their expenditures for campaign purposes and support continuing voters’ education and civic literacy programs through the political parties. The bill mandates the Commission on Audit (COA) to examine the financial reports of the accredited political parties on their use of the State subsidy. Membership dues and voluntary contributions shall also be accounted for separately under a different set of books of accounts, which shall be open to inspection by the COA. Rodriguez said party officials will be required to submit a sworn statement of their assets and liabilities to the Comelec which shall be made available to the public at least six months before elections. Rodriguez said all accredited political parties and their candidates shall be required to submit to the Comelec and make public a disclosure of all contributions as well as expenditures incurred for the use of the State subsidy 30 days after the elections. The bill imposes a penalty of six to 12 years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P5,000,000. (30) dpt

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