Poll Reform Bill Seeks Public Financing for Political Parties

Article excerpt

House Speaker Jose de Venecia has filed a landmark campaign finance reform bill that seeks public financing for the electoral campaigns of political parties to reduce political corruption and minimize the political influence of special-interest groups.

A reform measure similar to the speaker's has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Edgardo Angara, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) president, and supported by Senators Ralph Recto and Robert Barbers and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

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"Money politics distorts public policies and diverts government funds from vital social services into private pockets," said De Venecia in introducing House Bill No. 4395, An Act Institutionalizing the Campaign Finance Program.

The bill also seeks to stop "promiscuous partyswitching" and election overspending and to "level the political playing field" by raising the chances of poor but worthy candidates running for public office.

Noting that public financing for political parties is practiced in most democracies, De Venecia said voters would also be empowered by allowing them to contribute a portion of their tax payments to a party of their choice.

Under HB 4395, a political party qualifies for state funding once it reaches 15 percent of the national vote for its national candidates in the last general elections. A party-list group, to qualify, must have at least 2.5 percent of the total vote.

De Venecia's proposal has gained strong support among leaders of political parties attending the coming All-Parties Conference which the speaker has conceived to create a stratey to strengthen public institutions and the political system ad propel the Philippines into Southeast Asia's economic front-ranks.

The conference, set forMay 3-5, supported by President Arroyo and all the country's national and major regional parties and party leaders in a concerted effort to discuss and agree on wide-ranging political, economic, judicial, and social reforms to revitalize both the economy and the political system. …