Arroyo Backs Subsidy for Political Parties; De Venecia Still Optimistic despite boycott.(Main News)
Byline: GENALYN KABILING and BEN ROSARIO
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expressed yesterday support for the bill of opposition Sen. Edgardo Angara for the government to subsidize political parties to reduce corruption in governance.
She aired her support for the Angara bill in her speech at the first Philippine Political Parties Conference at the Manila Hotel.
Meanwhile, Speaker Jose de Venecia remained in high spirits and confident the First All Parties Conference would accomplish its purpose of creating a unified economic and political agenda for the country despite a boycott of the summit by the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino and the PDP-Laban, two major political parties in the country.
She noted Angara's proposal to eliminate the influence of "power brokers" and dirty money in government.
"That may diminish reliance on dirty money and power brokers. It will assist the parties that they help clarify public opinion on issues and offer reasonable options for our nation's future," she said.
The President said many "mature democracies" are using the same system for the government to subsidize the financial requirements for the political parties.
The move is seen to counter the common practice of political parties receiving funds from big business, as well as alleged drug and gambling lords, and even foreign groups with vested interests in the country.
The President cited the subsidy for political parties as they prepare to tackle proposed Charter-change, among other socio-economic and political proposals in the three-day summit, now on its second day today.
However, Angara, president of the opposition Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, snubbed the summit.
At least 21 political parties, regional parties, and party-list organizations have joined the 1st Philippine Political Parties Conference to draw up a common strategy for the socio-economic and political problems of the country.
The President said political parties, as agents of democratic order, should find common cause on the need to enhance the credibility of the electoral process.
She lamented that after each elections, losing candidates claim failure of the electoral system.
"Instead of doing this, let us join hands to ensure the integrity of our elections by modernizing the process," she said.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Arroyo yesterday reiterated her opposition to moves to change the Constitution, saying the process can be done only through pure non-partisanship.
In her keynote address at the opening of the three-day first political summit at the Manila Hotel, the President said she is not closing her doors to amendments to the Constitution, particularly the proposed shift to a federal form of government, but only after meaningful political reforms are fortified.
Arroyo cited the need for several "prerequisites" in the political arena before legislators can seek a change in the government system.
"If we do not recognize these prerequisites as discussion on Charter change moves forward, there might be a tendency to look at alternatives removed from the reality on the ground," she said in her speech.
On the proposed federalism, the President stressed the need for reforms like strengthening political organizations and the reinforcement of economic zones in the country.
"Before we can go to federalism, we must address the issue of economic viability and the preparedness of component states. Otherwise, federalism could lead to the underdevelopment of the less developed regions of the country," she added.
She noted the country's economic zones and political organizations should be ready to sustain themselves because they will constitute independent federal units.
"There must be success of the economic zones, success of autonomy, before we can be confident that statehood will be successful," she added. …