‘Political butterflies’

February 24, 2020

THE Philippines, a graft-prone and an impoverished Southeast Asian nation of election-crazy people, is teeming with “political butterflies” or “balimbings,” who readily change party affiliations.

“Political turncoatism” is nothing new in the “Pearl of the Orient Seas,” notably in the countryside where many politicians forsake principle for expediency at the proverbial “drop of a hat.”

People must not turn a deaf ear to the chorus of calls to change the present political set-up, described as “embarrassing” by a veteran solon, that allows politicians to switch loyalties.

House Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel lamented that “ang nangyayari po ay nakakahiya na, dapat ay matapos na ‘yung panahon ng mga balimbing” (sa Pilipinas).

“Ihinto na natin itong ugali natin na wala tayong mga prinsipyo, wala tayong paninindigan. I think politicians should be above this practice of being a balimbing,” added Pimentel.

What is needed to stop this counter-productive practice of changing party affiliations? It is for concerned government authorities to now rewrite the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

It is certainly disappointing that some politicians change party colors before and after a national or local election. Under the fundamental law of the land, elections are held every three years.

In the last public hearing of the House committee on constitutional amendments, chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Pimentel said “it’s high time to stop politics for expediency.”

An anti-”balimbing” provision is included in the draft proposal of Charter Change submitted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reforms (DILG-IATF).

Under the DILG-IATF draft proposal, candidates and officials of any political party are prohibited from changing party affiliation one year after an election and one year before the next balloting.

We share the view of well-meaning Filipinos, including members of Congress, that there’s now that urgent need to rid the country of “political butterflies” or “balimbings.”