PH lawmaker wants 'political prostitutes' punished
A bill penalizing “political prostitutes,” or politicians who frequently switch political parties, has been filed in the House of Representatives where ironically, changing one’s political affiliation has become the norm after every election.
Through his House Bill No. 1536 or the proposed Anti-Political Prostitute Act, Surigao del Rep. Robert Ace Barbers seeks to ban political turncoatism which, according to him, has become a “popular practice in Philippine politics, especially during [the] election period,” thus weakening the party system and undermining democracy.
“Due to a lack of ideological grounds…, [party] members tend to shift to another party when [an] opportunity comes or when there is a need for them to survive. They change political (parties) to continue access to valuable resources of the president. They will drop every ounce of principle in exchange for power,” he said.
Barbers’ bill defines political turncoatism as “the change of political party affiliation during an elective official’s term of office.” It also applies to those who switch parties within a year before or after an election, including independent or party list candidates, regardless of whether or not they won.
Not covered by the bill are politicians who switched parties before it took effect; those whose parties were abolished, merged or involved in a coalition; or those who were expelled provided their acts do not constitute political opportunism.
Political turncoats can be reported by registered voters to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) whose members will act on the complaint.
For elected public officials, the penalty will be forfeiture of office while for independent candidates, or members of a political party or party-list group, it will be a ban from running in the next two succeeding elections.
For winning or losing elective officials, they will be disqualified from appointment to any post in a public or government office for three years after the expiration of their current term or the office they vied for.
Refund with surcharge
If they join a new political party, they will not be allowed to assume any executive or administrative position in addition to being ordered to refund all the money they received from the party, plus 25 per cent surcharge.
Should the proposed bill be passed into law, all political parties must submit to the Comelec a complete list of their members, updated every six months. Failure to comply with the requirement will mean the suspension of their accreditation for one year and eventual cancellation for a succeeding offence.
According to Barbers, his bill will “ensure a genuine party system and promote party loyalty, discipline, and adherence to ideological principles.”
“This will also provide us hope that societal change can be achieved for a progressive nation,” he said.
Barbers’ bill, however, may face rough waters under the 19th Congress where the dominant party, Lakas-CMD, has seen its ranks increase with the defection of around 30 lawmakers less than two months after the new administration took over on June 30.
Jeannette I. Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Asia News Network
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