QUEZON CITY – The Ateneo School of Government, through the non-partisan, pro-democracy coalition PARTICIPATE, is pushing for a stronger political party system to address issues such as rampant party-switching or political turncoatism, following a series of nationwide stakeholder consultations.
PARTICIPATE will present its preliminary policy and legislative reform recommendations during the ceremonial signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on February 20, 09:30 AM, at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City. The MOA will cover as well their collaboration for the Comelec’s 2023 National Election Summit in March.
Senate Bill 179, which calls for a new Omnibus Election Code, contains a provision for the “forfeiture of the seat of anyone who changes their political party during their term and prohibits the nomination of a member who changes their political party one (1) year before the election.”
“This is worth considering and harmonizing with the relevant provisions” of House Bill 488, which seeks to strengthen the political party system, PARTICIPATE said, noting that “[a] membership book can be required for each political party” to monitor party switching.
“To help facilitate anti-turncoat provisions and the tracking of change in party affiliation, candidates should be required to include party membership in their certificate of candidacy following section 88 of Senate Bill 179,” PARTICIPATE proposed.
The recommendations also includes a list of penalties for political turncoats such as forfeiture of elected position if they change affiliation within one year before or after the elections, automatic disqualification in the succeeding election, and refund of all amounts they received from their political party with a twenty-five percent (25%) surcharge.
PARTICIPATE is also proposing a merit system for the nomination and selection of the candidates of political parties. “The selection process for candidates of political parties shall be democratized through the adoption of an open, free, fair, and transparent process that promotes participation of choice from the members of the party,” it said.
Aside from political party development, PARTICIPATE is also seeking reforms to strengthen campaign finance, civic education, voter engagement, and improve voter registration and verification.