The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is pushing for laws that will regulate organizations asking for donations in times of emergencies and calamities.
In a Zoom conference with reporters on Wednesday, the agency’s Standards Bureau said there are laws covering the social protection of the vulnerable sectors of society that are antiquated.
The exclusion of the social media platform in its guidelines was highlighted during the presentation.
“The dangerous part is if we cannot monitor the proceeds [of the donations transferred to them] wala silang accountability (they do not have accountability),” social welfare officer Patrick John Reyes said.
The DSWD has rallied for the prioritization of the Public Solicitation Bill since the 15th Congress (2010-2013). It aims to modernize the outdated Presidential Decree No. 1564 or the “Solicitation Permit Law”.
Reyes said they have listed approximately 500 organizations conducting private solicitations in social media during recent calamities this year.
These are unauthorized groups calling for donations via digital wallets such as GCash, PayMaya, and other forms of online fund transfer, he said.
“We gather them for a webinar to educate them about the proper flow of conducting these activities which are also being followed by the DSWD authorized charitable or non-profit organizations,” Reyes added.
After the relief operations, the organizations that initiated the activity will have to submit a report to address transparency, he said.
Social welfare officer Maria Aquilisa Ongleo added during the discussion that some may have shown efforts to be transparent but there is no authority that can prove those were true.
“It is mandated by law that 80 percent of the proceeds should go to the beneficiaries and at least 10 percent will be divided for the administrative cost. They can upload photos of the relief online but how do we know those were in fact 80 percent,” she said.
The salient features of the laws they are prioritizing will legitimize the groups doing these donation drives, Ongleo said, adding that the groups will carry the accountability that comes along with the event.
If passed into law, the groups interested to hold a donation drive would have to submit application forms and project proposal on the intent and beneficiary of the solicitation activities, and a notarized undertaking to comply with the reportorial requirements within sixty days after the solicitation activity.
In January 2020, the Congress panel chaired by La Union Rep. Sandra Eriguel approved its committee report on the unnumbered substitute bill seeking to ensure that public solicitations are not being abused by unscrupulous groups and organizations.
In the Senate, it is filed as Senate Bill No. 281 or “An Act to Regulate Public Solicitation and Providing Funds Therefor” by Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid and SBN 851 “An Act Regulating Public Solicitations and Providing Penalties for Violation thereof, Repealing for the purpose Act. No. 4075, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1564, otherwise known as the Solicitation Permit Law” by Sen. Leila de Lima.
It awaits the approval of the Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development of the Senate. (Christine Cudis/PNA)