Barbers wants to end political turncoatism

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March 21, 2018 – Call them political butterflies or turncoats who conveniently switch from one party to another, or party members who would jump ship immediately following an election.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Tuesday filed House Bill 7431, or the “Anti-Political Turncoatism Act,” which seeks to put an end to this practice and penalize turncoats to restore the integrity of the party system.

“The rampant party-switching of politicians undermines democracy and brings confusion to the people,” Barbers said in his bill.

“Political turncoats or butterflies fly from one party to another whenever it’s favorable. They are like chameleons that change colors from time to time for survival,” he stressed.

The bill defines political turncoatism as the change of political party affiliation during an elective official’s term of office.

Section 10, Article XII (C) of the 1973 Constitution provides that no candidate for elective public office may change his political party affiliation within six months immediately preceeding or following the election.

However, the 1987 Constitution is silent on political turncoatism which has become rampant and an unhealthy tradition that weakens the fiber of the Philippine political system, Barbers said.

“Unlike other countries, the Philippines does not have ‘real’ political parties. Thus, this bill seeks to rectify this and offers the people reliable and genuine political parties that would represent them,” he also said.

Under the bill, no elected public official may change his political party affiliation during his term of office, and no candidate for any elective public office may change his political party affiliation within one year immediately preceding an election, and one year following such election in which he participated but lost.

All registered political parties are required to submit the complete list of their members to the Commission on Elections.

“HB 7431 applies to all elective government officials and shall likewise apply to independent and party-list candidates who, after participating in an election, shall join any political party within a period of one year following such election regardless whether he won or lost,” Barbers said.

Under the bill, violators shall be penalized with automatic forfeiture of public office, disqualification from running in the next two succeeding elections regardless whether he is independent or under another political party, aggroupment or coalition, disqualification from being appointed or from holding position in any government office for three years after the expiration of the current term or office, and exclusion from any executive or administrative position in his/her new political party.

Also, political turncoats shall be asked to refund all amounts he/she may have received from his/her political party, with 25% surcharge.

Failure by any political party to disclose and/or update membership every six months shall be penalized by suspension of its accreditation for one year for the first offense, and cancellation of its accreditation for the succeeding offense.

“This Act will ensure a genuine party system and promote party loyalty, discipline and adherence to ideological principles,” Barbers said.

“This will also provide us hope that societal change can be achieved for a progressive nation,” he added. #