Thursday, August 25, 2005




Senator Richard Gordon filed a bill to strengthen political parties by punishing political “turncoatism” and opportunism.


In Senate Bill 2062, Gordon proposed that any member of a political party “who changes political party affiliation any time after being chosen, in accordance with party procedures, on the ticket of that party shall be considered a political turncoat and shall be subject to penalties.”


Gordon deplored that “the intended objectives of a political party have been subverted by rampant party-switching in the Philippine political system.  In effect, party-switching has contributed to the stunting of the political maturity of the Philippine electorate, and encouraged transactional leadership instead of transformational leadership.”


In his bill, Gordon provided that a political party may decide, in accordance with its constitution and by-laws, that a member who regularly votes with another political party is a political opportunist who would be subject to penalties.


However, the bill declares, the penalties would not apply to any party member who acts “by reason of his or her religious, ideological, or moral training and belief [and] has a sincere and conscientious objection to the change in party direction or evolving ideology of his political party, and such objection is not borne out of mere whimsy, convenience or caprice.”


Under the proposed measure, a political turncoat or opportunist shall;

(a)   Be prohibited from assuming office, if he changes party affiliation during the election period;

(b)  Forfeit his office if the elected public officer changes political party affiliation during his term of office;

(c)  Be disqualified from running for any elective office in the next succeeding election immediately following the act of changing political party affiliation;

(d)  Be disqualified from being appointed or from holding any position in any pubic or government office for three years after the expiration of his/her current term;

(e)   Be disqualified from assuming any executive or administrative position in his/her new political party; and

(f)    Refund any and all amounts received from his/her political party, plus a 25 percent surcharge thereof.


“A political opportunist so considered by his political party in accordance with its constitution and by-laws shall not be entitled to any of the benefits given to party members and may be expelled by his political party,” the bill added.  “He may also be required to refund all amounts received from the political party.”


Gordon declared that political parties “serve as a democratic tool” for offering the electorate different options as programs of government and proposing leaders who would carry out their party programs for the best interests of the people.


He lamented that the rampant practice of turncoatism had “encouraged the cult of personality in the electorate’s choice of elected officials” and resulted to “non-continuity of government plans, programs and projects which eventually redounds to disadvantages for the Filipino people.”


Gordon expressed strong belief that “punishing turncoatism would bring about greater stability into the Philippine political system because it would ensure that membership in political parties will be relatively permanent, and the electorate can expect, if not exact, strict compliance from government officials in terms of the promises and platforms upon which the political party is grounded.”


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