Participate Multiparty Summit gathers leaders to talk reforms

Participate Multiparty Summit gathers leaders to talk reforms
Contributed photo

POLITICAL party leaders and representatives gathered in Manila earlier this week to tackle critical reforms in the Philippines’ political and electoral system.

The Multiparty Summit, organized by the non-partisan and pro-democracy coalition Participate, covered persistent problems of dynastic politics, clientelism, and vote-buying, which, party leaders believed, required long-term reforms, including vital legislation.

At the heart of such initiatives is the need to reform and institutionalize political parties to veer away from personalities and instead focus on programs and platforms.

“Napakarami pong political parties dito sa ating bansa, pero iilan lang po ang tunay na nagtutulak ng isang pulitika na base sa programa at plataporma at disiplinado upang ipatupad itong mga plataporma nila,” said Dr. Julio C. Teehankee, Participate chief of party.

A panel discussion covered the importance of reforms such as passing legislation against party-switching and on state subsidy on political parties for greater transparency and accountability.

The panel included Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (Magdalo Party), lawyer Erin Tañada (Liberal Party), Rafaela David (Akbayan), Emmi de Jesus (Gabriela), Leon Flores III (Aksyon Demokratiko), Jorge Azuelo (Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas), and lawyer Vincent Aureus (Partido Reporma).

Lawyer Efraim Bag-id, director of the Comelec’s Political Finance and Affairs Department, also discussed reform initiates on campaign finance despite limitations under existing laws.

Comelec Chair George Garcia called on political parties to help convince legislators to update the 39-year-old, pre-Edsa Omnibus Election Code.

Trillanes, who spent 12 years in the Senate, said proposed legislation to reform the political and electoral system would realistically happen with the support of a sitting president.

“If the (sitting) president wants this, it will be done… 2028, I believe, is the ideal opportunity if we have a candidate who would bring political party development as part of their campaign or program of government,” said the former senator, who was one of the authors of the Political Party Development Bill.

Garcia called on political parties to help “develop an intelligent electorate, an electorate that is capable of electing the right people to the position.”

Akbayan’s David cited the need to “create a constituency of reform, not just within political parties, but also outside political parties.”

Dean Philip Arnold Tuaño of the Ateneo School of Government acknowledged the “complex challenges” confronting the current political party system.

“However, we are also united in our belief that robust, accountable political parties are the cornerstone of a resilient and responsive government,” he said.

After the panel discussion, the results of the “Survey on Attitudes toward Political Parties and Reforms in the Philippines” was presented, and one of the key findings indicate that there is a strong desire among Filipinos for significant improvements to the existing political party framework. The survey is part of an ongoing research study of the Participate and the Ateneo Policy Center on political party development in the Philippines, in collaboration with WR Numero Research.

Participants of the Academy of Multiparty Democracy’s pilot run who were able to attend and actively participate in all three modules were also recognized at the event.

The Multiparty Summit was attended by over 140 participants, including political party and party-list representatives, members of the academe, civil society organizations, and youth groups. (PR)


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