De Lima seeks protection of volunteers during emergencies & disasters


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure which seeks to give due protection to licensed or accredited volunteers from liability in the performance of their selfless duties in times of disaster or emergency situations.

In filing Senate Bill (SB) No. 2013, to be known as the “Emergency Volunteer Protection Act of 2018,” De Lima underscored the importance of placing mechanisms that would protect volunteers from liability from fines, detention and even criminal suit.

The measure also seeks to grant a mandatory insurance to qualified volunteers for disability, medical attention, and even death benefits should they perish in responding to crisis or emergency situations, such as disaster.

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

“By setting up a conducive and enabling legal environment for volunteers, it is hoped that this will entice more volunteers to participate and to take an active role in nation-building,” she added

While there are laws on volunteerism in the country, De Lima said they do not provide safeguards which can protect the volunteers from liability from fine, detention and even criminal liability depending on the acts or omissions they have done during emergencies.

“In recent years, there has been an increasing trend towards enacting legislation on volunteerism across jurisdiction. In the Philippines, there are already laws in place promoting volunteerism,” she noted.

“However, the current body of legislation does not provide safeguards which can protect the volunteers from liability which may range from fines, detention and even criminal liability,” she added.

Covered under her proposed measure are individuals or groups that are properly licensed, certified, authorized by the appropriate government authorities, or accredited by and registered with the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) prior to deployment.

Under SB No. 2013, no qualified volunteer shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission if the volunteer was acting in an emergency and that the harm was not caused by negligence, recklessness, or conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed.

“The liability protection for volunteers under this Act shall not apply to misconduct that constitutes a crime or was performed under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or any dangerous drug at the time of the misconduct,” De Lima clarified.

The Senator from Bicol also batted for the mandatory insurance granted to all volunteers by the PNVSCA, such as Disability Benefits of P350,000 when they suffer total or partial disability as a result of any injury sustained during performance of duty.

Volunteers who died in the line of duty shall be given a death benefit of P300,000 and those who shall be hospitalized or be required medical attendance for injuries sustained while in the performance of duty a reimbursement of actual medical costs up to P200,000.

“The PNVSCA, in consultation with relevant governmental entities and non-profit organizations, shall undertake a nationwide information, education and communication campaign for the attainment of the objectives of this Act,” she noted.

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