Press Release
June 22, 2010

During the Independence Day celebration in Russia:
Angara called for expanding political participation, stronger political parties

MOSCOW, Russia -- Senator Edgardo J. Angara today graced the Independence Day celebration of the Philippines's Russian embassy, and called for expanding political participation and strengthening political parties to consolidate democracy in the country.

"Today we commemorate 112 years of Philippine Independence, first declared in 1898 by President Emilio Aguinaldo after three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. We celebrate the founding of the oldest democracy in Asia," Angara said.

According to Angara, our country's experience with democracy has had two sides to it. "it has expressed the will of the people and exact meaningful change; it has been manipulated to shroud the remnants of feudal rule," Angara said.

Angara cited the people power in 1986 as an example of democracy at work in the Philippines, which awed and inspired peoples of the former Czechoslovakia, Georgia, Ukraine and Nepal on their journey to democratization.

Angara, however, laments that while people power has restored our democratic institutions, it has had limited success in delivering the changes it promised.

"In a consolidated democracy, civil society must be able to generate policy alternatives and oversee the actions of politicians. But in the Philippines, traditional politicians, in their quest to perpetrate political power, have effectively stifled any attempt by civil society to introduce meaningful reform," said Angara.

"Weak political parties breed traditional politicians and populist leaders who are big in charisma and personalistic politics, but have little reform and policy-making to offer. Our political parties lack party discipline, which figures prominently in more mature democracies such as Britain and Japan. They are mere vehicles for personalities during elections," said Angara.

Angara said he will be refilling the Political Party Development Act when the 15th Congress convenes in July. The bill aims to develop, support and strengthen political parties in the country and hinder turncoatism. The bill seeks to help fund political parties in their platform-based activities all year-round, and bars politicians from changing parties for the sake of political expediency. It also introduces more transparency in campaign finance.

"We have to re-structure how political parties work in the Philippines to foster platform-based competition among them. Political parties should present concrete policy alternatives to the electorate and be accountable for their actions," Angara said.

News Latest News Feed