Daily Tribune : Malevolent butterflies

17 June 2021

By Chito Lozada | Daily Tribune

Aside from fixing the cheatmatic machines in the automated polls, long-term reforms are badly needed in the electoral system, including fixing the 1987 Constitution to apply what poll experts term as surgical amendments.

The Constitution has provisions for a multi-party system, which is actually more fit for a parliament despite the government being democratic and republican.

There is no prohibition against party switching, and Filipino voters rarely punish politicians who switch parties.

Turncoatism is prevalent since politicians want insurance that they can secure funds for projects from whoever holds dominance in Malacañang and Congress.

The difference between the candidate-centered and party-centered electoral system will again be highlighted in the coming exercise.

In party-centered polities, political parties choose their candidates through party conventions and caucuses.

In these polities, party discipline prevails; party members follow the party voting line. It is intolerable for politicians to switch like butterflies, flitting from flower to flower.

Switching parties should be discouraged and must be punishable, according to long-time public servant, former Commission on Elections auditor Art Besana.

What is a turncoat? A turncoat is one who switches to an opposing side or party.

“Turncoatism” is the ugliest face of Philippine politics, Besana noted.

Comelec, he said, is the constitutional body that has the exclusive authority to administer and manage elections, and discipline the candidates seeking public office.

It should initiate political reforms, including:
• Prohibiting elected members of any political party from switching to other parties within their term of office;
• Removing from office those who switch parties after their election;
• Those who have been removed from office for switching parties should be prohibited from being appointed to public office;
• Those who have been removed from office for switching parties should refund all money spent for him by the party that he abandoned; and
• Those who have been removed from office for abandoning their party must be prohibited from running again for public office.

An assurance that electoral reforms will be pursued is a leader with a strong mandate, such as President Rodrigo Duterte who, Besana said, remains a weapon for positive change.

“He saves lives and fixes the constitution for electoral reforms.”

What bothers Besana and his group of poll system reformists is that President Duterte may need more than the one year left for him to lay down the most powerful legacy that he can leave Filipinos which is the integrity of the ballot.