Angara Urges Strong Party System; Drilon Vows Action on Senate Bill on Political Parties 6 Resolutions Okayed at LDP Nat'l Congress

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Byline: MARIO B. CASAYURAN

Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, chairman of the opposition Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) party, yesterday said the lack of a genuine party system in the Philippines stunts the development of democracy, restrains foreign investments and hinders progress.

Angara made this assessment of the country's political situation during the LDP National Congress held at the historic Manila Hotel where Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, president of the Liberal Party (LP); Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate constitutional amendments committee; and former Sen. Loren Legarda were guest speakers.

During the LDP congress, Angara reiterated the importance of his proposed Political Party Development and Campaign Finance Reform Act (Senate Bill 1051) which is the centerpiece of the party's efforts to stamp out patronage politics and implement reforms in governance.

In his speech, Drilon vowed to give priority to SB 1051 during the third regular session of the 13th Congress which opens in July. The second regular session of the 13th Congress adjourns sine die on June 9.

Drilon stressed that a strong political system is good for democracy.

He reminded LDP members that loyalty to a party is admirable, especially when the party leadership is made up of people with integrity as the present political system is encrusted with corruption that leads to disillusionment.

The Angara bill proposes government subsidy for political parties to remove dependence on private contributions and to discourage changing of political party affiliations.

Gordon and Legarda congratulated Angara for strengthening the democratic foundations of the country through the contribution of the LDP.

Before ending the LDP national congress, party members approved the following resolutions:

1. Authorizing Angara to enter into any appropriate and workable arrangement with other political parties or organizations for the national interest.

2. Commending the Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law when it ruled as unconstitutional Malacanang's Executive Order 464 which banned officials of the Executive branch from appearing in any congressional inquiry without the prior consent of the President and also struck down as unconstitutional portions of Proclamation 1017 that placed the country under a state of emergency.

3. Calling for subsidy of medicines, cooking oil and fuel for the needy,

4. Expressing full support to the call for a freeze on increases in tuition and miscellaneous fees in the college and universities.

5. Calling on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to resolve with dispatch all pending electoral cases.

6. Favoring constitutional amendments.

However, the delegates could not agree on the timing and mode to be adopted in amending or revising the 1987 Constitution.

Last year, the LDP also passed a similar resolution authorizing the LDP chairman to enter into a workable arrangement with other political parties with the forthcoming 2007 elections in mind.

"We wish to transform political parties as ideology-based organizations, whose members are attracted more by the advocacies and platform the party espouses," Angara said.

Angara said the measure seeks government financial support to political parties to wean them away from contributors so that these parties can make reasoned, ethical and independent positions on various issues.

He said the lack of a genuine party system feeds corruption and that political parties lacking strong ideological foundations are more prone to resort to fraud and chicanery.

"We are politically unstable since we have not strengthened democratic institutions that characterize a true democracy, like a strong party system, an independent press and judiciary, and a neutral military," Angara said.

Many candidates in elections resort to money politics to gain votes because they are unable to attract the electorate on the basis of a genuine program of action, he said. …