By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Social Services has endorsed the plenary approval of a substitute bill seeking to regulate public solicitations.
The House 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.
The bill substituted House Bill No. 4341, principally authored by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato. It repeals Act No. 4075, as amended by Presidential Decree 1564, the Solicitation Permit Law.
“This bill aims to protect the general public from the unscrupulous solicitation, thus, establishing the standards and guidelines for organizations, agencies, groups, and individuals undertaking such activities,” Sato said.
She said the proposed Public Solicitation Act also seeks to strengthen the system of granting permits and/or authorization to solicit funds and/or donations from the public for charitable, social, and public welfare purposes.
“It is also the intention of this bill to ensure that solicited funds are properly utilized according to its intended purposes and given its rightful beneficiaries,” she said.
The substitute bill seeks to establish standards and guidelines to strengthen the system of granting permits or authorization primarily to solicit funds or donations from the public.
Covered by the proposed Act are all national government agencies (NGAs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), public schools, local government units (LGUs), and other government agencies, individuals, civil society organizations (CSO) including faith-based organizations, people’s organizations, non-government organizations, academe, associations, and similar organizations, chapters, and affiliates of similar international organizations operating in the Philippines which are partly or fully financed with funds solicited from or contributed by the public or private sector for charitable or public welfare purposes.
The substitute bill tasks the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to maintain and periodically update the list of organizations and agencies that are exempted from application of solicitation permit.
Exempted from application of solicitation permit are organisations and agencies created by laws that solicit or conduct fund campaign for charitable or public welfare purposes; carolling during holiday season, regardless of purpose; and solicitations for religious purposes that are made within religious sanctuaries.
Among the officials authorized to grant a solicitation permit to an eligible individual, organization, or agency that will conduct solicitation activities for charitable and public welfare purposes are the DSWD Secretary or a duly authorised Undersecretary of the DSWD for national public solicitations; and DSWD Regional Director or any duly authorised representative for regional public solicitations.
The substitute bill prohibits the following acts: soliciting without securing a permit from the DSWD, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), or the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) as well as soliciting beyond the allowed area of coverage or violating the mode of solicitation as indicated in the approved solicitation permit; using falsified or tampered solicitation permit; soliciting with an expired solicitation permit and using the solicited funds for purposes other than those indicated in the application form; including the beneficiaries as part of the strategy or mechanism in conducting the solicitation activity which tends to exploit the beneficiaries; the use of lottery and other games of chance and using solicitation paraphernalia which portray a dehumanizing picture, information or situation of the intended beneficiaries.
Violators of the proposed Act shall be slapped with a penalty of imprisonment of one year to three years or a fine amounting to P100,000 to P500,000, or both, at the discretion of the court.
Within 90 days from the approval of this Act, the Secretary of the DSWD, in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Secretary of Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Director General of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Commissioner of the SEC(Securities and Exchange Commission) , the Association of PSWDO, the Association of CSWDO, the Association of MSWDO, and three representatives selected by the DSWD from among the academe, NGOs and media organizations, shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the proposed Act, the substitute measure provides.