De Lima pushes bill to protect volunteers during disasters, emergencies

Published January 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Leila de Lima has renewed her push for a measure that seeks to protect licensed and qualified volunteers from liability in the performance of their noble duties and functions.

Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Leila de Lima

De Lima, in filing Senate Bill No. 1285, or the proposed “Emergency Volunteer Protection Act of 2020,” said it is imperative for the government to provide a conducive and enabling legal environment for volunteers by placing mechanisms that will protect their rights in times of emergency situations, including disasters.

At the same time, De Lima, who chairs the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, said the bill also seeks to accord volunteers with privileges for their contribution to society.

“These volunteers deserve to be protected and be given due recognition because of their contribution to society, especially in crisis situations,” De Lima said in a statement.

De Lima noted there are no existing laws that ensure specific protection for qualified and registered volunteers responding to disasters and emergencies even though there are laws that promote volunteerism in the country.

She pointed out that the current laws does not provide safeguards which can protect the volunteers from liability “which may range from fines, detention and even criminal liability, depending on the gravity of the act or omission done by the volunteer in responding to an emergency situation.”

Under the bill, volunteers who wish to be covered by the proposed law and exempted from liability must be properly licensed, certified or authorized by the appropriate government authorities or accredited by and registered with the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency prior to deployment.

Likewise, the measure seeks specific guidelines exempting from liability spontaneous volunteers or untrained persons performing voluntary work who acted in an emergency situation, where there are no government authority or trained volunteers present, in order to assist or care for persons who are in imminent danger, injured, or suffering from an illness.

The bill also call for additional insurance coverage to all qualified volunteers for disability, medical attention, and even death benefits should they perish in the line of duty.