June 19, 2012
ANGARA CALLS FOR POLITICAL PARTY SUBSIDY FUND
Senator Edgardo J. Angara called for the creation of a political party subsidy fund as proposed by the Political Party Development Act or the PPDA (SBN 3214) which he co-authored with Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
The proposed fund--amounting to an annual allocation of P350 million--will be administered by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and can only be used to augment the operation and campaign expenditures of registered National Political Parties.
"Elections have always played a vital role in our national politics as have our political parties. But because our laws have been relatively silent in terms of campaign finance, elections have also become the points where deep-seated corruption takes root," said Angara.
The veteran lawmaker earlier lamented in a lecture at the UP College of Law that political parties in the country are based on moneyed personalities and not necessarily on shared ideologies or platforms of governance.
"Through the subsidy, we level the playing field and empower our political parties to truly represent the interests of their constituents, very much like how it is in the United States and Germany. Because political parties would rely less on private contributions, programs--not personalities--will become the focus of their bids for public office," stressed the former UP President.
Under the proposed measure, registered political parties have to be accredited by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to avail of the state subsidy. Political parties will be accredited based on three broad criteria: 1) political representation; 2) organizational strength and mobilization capability; and 3) performance and track record of the party.
The bill also stipulates that 90 percent of the fund will be proportionately distributed to the accredited national political parties based on the number of seats they obtained in the most recent general elections for the Senate, the House of Representatives, and local elective positions including those for governor, mayor and city or provincial legislative councils. The remaining 10 percent will go to the COMELEC to be used for monitoring purposes, information dissemination and voter's education campaigns.
The share of the accredited political parties in the fund will only be released to them upon proof that they have raised an equal amount from voluntary contributions. If the party was unable to do so, then an amount equal to what they have raised will only be released to with the balance reverting back to the National Treasury.
Angara, whose term as Senator ends in June 2013 said, "This bill has been up for approval for three Congresses already. Understandably, there is still much apprehension because the measure proposes very deep changes to the overarching structure of our political party system. But that's precisely why the bill needs to be enacted swiftly - to help the country mature into a truly representative democracy."
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