Taxpayers' money to fund political parties under proposed law-A A +A
Friday, October 12, 2012
THE taxpayers' money would soon be used to augment the operating funds of accredited national political parties following the third reading approval of the proposed "Political Party Development Act of 2012."
House Bill (HB) 6551, authored by six lawmakers, mandates that a state subsidy be created to be used for party development and campaign expenditures.
These expenditures include party administration, recruitment and civic education, education and training of members, operating and travelling expenses, information dissemination, advocacy campaigns, production and distribution of electoral paraphernalia and other expenditures under Section 102 of the Omnibus Election Code.
The total amount of state subsidy fund shall be distributed as follows:
* Five percent for monitoring purposes and the conduct of information dissemination campaigns and voters' education;
* Thirty percent shall be proportionately distributed to accredited political parties represented in the Senate based on the number of seats obtained in the most recent general elections;
* Sixty-five percent shall also be distributed to parties in the House of Representatives based on the number of seats obtained in the recent polls.
Two party-list legislators, Representatives Sherwin Tugna (Cibac) and Luzviminda Ilagan Gabriela), opposed the approval of the bill.
"There are far more important necessities that taxpayer's money should be devoted to, basic needs like education, healthcare and housing, to name a few. I believe that political parties should stand on their own and not rely on state subsidies," Tugna said in a text message.
Ilagan, for her part, said providing subsidies to political parties is a "self-serving provision." She called on the electorate to oppose the proposal, saying it is open to abuse.
Bohol Representative Erico Aumentado, one of the authors of HB 6551 and chairman of the House committee on ethics, meanwhile, defended the proposal.
"The legislation has sufficient safeguards embedded therein. The political party granted subsidy undergoes a rigorous process to qualify and utilize the subsidy under the eagle eyes of the Comelec and COA (Commission on Audit),” he pointed out.
Under the measure, the COA shall examine the financial reports of the political parties on their use of the state subsidy.
Officials of the parties shall also submit their statements of their assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), which shall be made available by COA to the public at least six months before elections.
"Most laws can be abused if not implemented well or properly. For the state subsidy, it must be released strictly in accordance with the formula established in the measure," said Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara, also an author of HB 6551.
The proposed law also limits voluntary contributions to political parties to P1 million if from a natural person, and up to P10 million if from a juridical person. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)