By Vanne Terrazola
Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday, April 13, called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to assist fundraising efforts of groups and individuals for poor families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Villanueva said the DSWD should not discourage grass roots fund-raising activities aimed at helping indigent members of the community. He pointed out that these efforts help expand the coverage of government-funded relief.
He said the department should be lenient to such activities and let them secure the necessary permits after the government has lifted the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
“Lahat po ng ating kababayan [ay] nais tumulong sa kapwa natin na nagigipit dahil sa krisis na dala ng COVID-19. Hindi po natin maaalis ito sa ating kamalayan, kaya po hinihiling natin sa DSWD na kung maaari, tumulong gawing legal ang mga fund-raising efforts na ganito (Most of our countrymen want to help those in need due to the crisis caused by the COVID-19. That’s why we ask the DSWD to, if possible, help fund-raising efforts become legal),” Villanueva said in a statement.
“Imbis na takutin ang mga tao gamit ang batas, kalingahin na lang po natin ang mga nais tumulong sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay ng tamang payo sa proseso (Instead of threatening people with the law, we should care for those who offer their help by properly advising them on the processes),” he appealed.
The lawmaker issued the appeal after the DSWD, amid various fund-raising drives on social media, supposedly cited the Presidential Decree No. 1564 or the Solicitation Permit law, which regulates fund-raising activities and prevents unscrupulous individuals from defrauding people.
Villanueva, on the other hand, said the Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act provides for a legal cover for these relief efforts during the public health emergency.
He mentioned Section 4 (ee) of the Bayanihan law which authorizes the President to “undertake such other measures reasonable and necessary to enable the President to carry out the declared national policy subject to the Bill of Rights and other constitutional guarantees.”
Since an enhanced community quarantine is in effect until April 30, he said the DSWD could grant these individuals a 30-day grace period once the quarantine is lifted for them to submit all the requirements mandated by the PD 1564.
“We hope the DSWD considers helping these individuals or groups by providing legal cover to their fund-raising efforts, instead of discouraging future efforts to provide relief to those who need our help,” Villanueva said.
In the meantime, he proposed to the DSWD to launch a massive information drive on the Solicitation Permit Law, establish an online filing system, streamline the application process and requirements, and expedite the approval process, instead of the average three-day turn-around time of DSWD.