Anti-’balimbing’ reforms pushed to strengthen party system

Penalizing political turncoatism, or party-switching before and after the elections, can lead to genuine representation from political parties and better choices of candidates, said non-partisan, pro-democracy coalition PARTICIPATE.

In a presentation of proposed political and electoral reforms held earlier today, PARTICIPATE Chief of Party Dr. Julio Teehankee emphasized that reforming the political party system “can enhance the integrity of the electoral process, promote more competitive elections, and ultimately, strengthen democracy in the country.”

Following a series of nationwide stakeholder consultations, PARTICIPATE pushed for the passage of a political party development law that includes:

-institutionalizing internal democratic practices in selecting party officials and candidates;

-transparency in party financing and expenditures, and;

-establishing clear criteria for party accreditation.

The recommendations also includes a list of penalties for political turncoats such as forfeiture of elected position if they change affiliation within one year before or after the elections, automatic disqualification in the succeeding election, and refund of all amounts they received from their political party with 25 percent surcharge.

PARTICIPATE also pushed for a merit system for the nomination and selection of the candidates of political parties. “The selection process for candidates of political parties shall be democratized through the adoption of an open, free, fair, and transparent process that promotes participation of choice from the members of the party,” the coalition said.


Aside from political party development, PARTICIPATE also recommended the establishment of a democracy fund to provide public subsidies to qualified candidates and political parties.

“Consider classifying political and campaign donations and contributions as quasi-public funds that cannot become the property of candidates or political parties if unused or unspent,” the proposal read.

“The public subsidy may take the form of free access to media, especially television, tax incentives, or even direct subsidies. Direct subsidies could be coursed through the parties or candidates, but the government should develop a system that would regulate this, preferably an itemized proposed budget per candidate, including sources of funds.”

Last November 16, the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms approved House Bill No. 488 or the Political Party Development Act of 2022 filed by former president and now Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The bill includes institutionalizing the political party system and penalizing political turncoatism.