To protect beneficiaries and the general public from unscrupulous individuals, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has proposed a measure seeking to regulate public solicitations and impose stiff penalties for any misuse of funds collected by solicitors.
De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2014 repealing the antiquated Act. No. 4075, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 156, also known as the “Solicitation Permit Law”, to avoid unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of the generosity of others.
To be known as “Public Solicitation Act,” the measure also seeks to institutionalize the issuance of temporary solicitation permits to individuals or organizations needing aid in times of natural or human-induced calamities or disasters.
“Reported abuses in the conduct of solicitation activities bring to the forefront the need for regulation of organizations, agencies, groups and individuals in order to protect the general public from unscrupulous individuals,” she said.
According to De Lima, there have been several issues identified in the implementation of the 40-year-old PD 156 which was enacted to regulate donations in order to ensure legality of funding activities.
Among these issues are the need to justify the monitoring of individuals who were issued authority to conduct solicitation, the need to religiously monitor the proceeds of the solicited funds, the need to protect the general public as well as beneficiaries from exploitation.
“Through putting up stronger mechanisms to mandate the accountability of solicitors, rights of beneficiaries are protected,” the former justice secretary said.
“The bill ultimately seeks to safeguard the welfare of the most vulnerable by ensuring that proceeds raised for the benefit of our disadvantaged countrymen will rightfully be translated to programs that will help their causes,” she added.
De Lima’s proposed measure puts in place mechanisms to ensure that funds raised through public solicitation are properly utilized for the intended purpose and beneficiaries.
“To achieve this, standards and guidelines are established to strengthen the system of granting permits or authorization to solicit funds or donations from the public, to serve their respective public welfare purposes,” she stressed.
Under the measure, individuals or organizations shall be held accountable if they solicit without securing a solicitation permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, the City Social Welfare and Development Office, or the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office.
Among the other prohibited acts punishable under the measure also include soliciting beyond the allowed area of coverage as indicated in the approved solicitation permit, using a falsified or tampered permit, and using the solicited funds for purposes other than those indicated in the application form.
Any individual, organization or agency who commits any of the prohibited acts shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than three years or a fine of not less than ₱100,000 but not more than ₱500,000, or both at the discretion of the court.
If the offender is a foreigner, the offender shall, after serving sentence, be immediately deported and barred permanently from entering the country.