MANILA—A substitute bill seeking to regulate public solicitations to ensure these are not being abused by unscrupulous groups and organizations has already hurdled the committee level at the House of Representatives.
The House committee on social services chaired by La Union Rep. Sandra Eriguel approved the unnumbered measure which consolidates House Bills 2476 and 179.
HB 2476 was authored by Isabela Rep. Ma. Lourdes Aggabao and Antipolo City Rep. Cristina Roa-Puno, while HB 179 was authored by Occidental Rep. Josephine Ramirez Zato.
During the hearing, Aggabao said the measure is a refiled bill initially filed by her husband, former Deputy Speaker Giordi Aggabao, in the 16th Congress.
Aggabao said the bill, during the previous congress, was already approved on third reading by the lower chamber and was already transmitted to the Senate. However, due to lack of material time, the Senate was not able to act on it.
HB 2476 seeks to regulate public solicitation activities by instituting mechanisms to ensure public protection from unscrupulous organizations or persons who engage in public solicitation for their own pecuniary benefit at the expense of supposed beneficiaries and likewise the unsuspecting public in general.
Aggabao said she wants the proceeds of these activities to really reach their intended beneficiaries, thus citing the need to protect the public from “falling prey” to these illegal activities.
“We likewise need to separate and protect legitimate organizations which are genuinely and actively organizing activities for a good and noble cause from these unscrupulous organizations,” she added.
According to Aggabao, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), National Food Authority (NFA), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Landbank of the Philippines as well as the Lopez Group of Companies have submitted their position papers, all expressing full support for this bill subject to a few proposed amendments to further improve the bill.
The bill seeks to punish acts such as soliciting without securing a permit from the DSWD and other similar authorities, as well as soliciting beyond the allowed area of coverage or violating the mode of solicitation as indicated in the approved solicitation permit.
The bill also prohibits 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.
Failure to comply may lead to a penalty of imprisonment of one year to three years or a fine amounting to PHP100,000 to PHP500,000, or both, at the discretion of the court, shall be imposed on any erring individual, organization or agency.
Meanwhile, HB 179 aims to protect the public from unscrupulous solicitations, thus, establishing the standards and guidelines for organizations, agencies, groups and individuals undertaking such activities.
Sato said her bill also aims 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 also intends to ensure that solicited funds are properly utilized according to its intended purposes and given to their rightful beneficiaries,” Sato said.