Charter body eyes ban on political turncoatism

The  consultative  committee (Con-com) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution is eyeing the adoption of a new article with provisions against party switching, or turncoatism, to institutionalize and strengthen political parties.

Con-com member Dean Julio C. Teehankee, subcommittee chairman on leveling the political playing field, said they have already agreed in principle on the subcommittee level to adopt the proposed provisions.

Teehankee said the Philippines has a long history of party-switching, noting that between 70 percent to 75 percent of politicians have switched parties since 1987.

Under the 1987 Constitution, there are no existing provisions on turncoatism.

The proposed provisions, which are yet to be voted by Con-com in its en banc session next week, include prohibitions for candidates and party officials from changing parties two years before and two years after an election and for members of political party elected to public office from changing parties during their term.

Teehankee, likewise, underscored the need to strengthen political parties.

Political parties are also prohibited under the proposed provision from accepting “transferees” within the prohibited periods, and that violation is a ground for cancellation of registration.

Violators of the provision shall lose the post to which they have been elected, barred from appointment to any post, barred from running in the next election and return any party funds they spent for campaign.

On political parties, there is a one-sentence provision, particularly on Section 6 of Article IX-C Commission on Elections (Comelec) under the current constitution, which reads, “A free and open party system shall be allowed to evolve according to the free choice of the people, subject to the provisions of this Article.”

Teehankee said they are proposing that the state, through the Comelec, shall ensure that registered political parties have clear democratic program and platform.





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