House panel OKs bill banning ‘political butterflies’

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

A substitute bill seeking to strengthen the political party system was approved in the House Committee on Suffrage and electoral reforms chaired by Cibac Rep. Sherwin Tugna.

The substitute bill is composed of at least four similar measures including House Bill 697 authored by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Arroyo’s proposal is to stop the political butterfliesfrom changing parties during and after election period.

The three other substituted bills were HB 522 authored by Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro, HB 1695 by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Maximo Rodriguez  and HB 7088 by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano.

Speaker Arroyo said her bill aims to give importance to party ideals and policy agenda rather than political pragmatism and survival.

She proposes that any member of the party wanting to change party affiliation after being elected on the party’s ticket, should first resign from his elective position and seek a fresh mandate from the electorate.

Likewise, defecting persons cannot be appointed nor hold any position in any public office until after the expiration of the term within which they were elected.

“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 ideology commitment to the members of a party because they choose parties based on the rise and fall of the tide of opportunity,” the Speaker  said.

She further said that “turncoatism” should never be encouraged nor tolerated since it only distorts the concept of word of honor and dignity of a leader.”

The bill covers political parties duly registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

It mandates political parties to craft a clear policy agenda and program of governance consistent with their party philosophy and ideals. Each party shall formulate a system of nomination and selection of candidates, in which all party members are involved.