Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has recommended the approval of a measure that seeks to better regulate the practice of public solicitation in the country and ensure that proceeds raised are utilized for the intended purpose.
De Lima, chair of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, has reported out Senate Bill (SB) No. 2111, also referred to as the “Public Solicitation Act,” seeking to repeal the 40-year-old Act. No. 4075, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1564, otherwise known as the Solicitation Permit Law.
The proposed Public Solicitation Act also includes salient features related to the issuance of temporary solicitation permits to individuals or organizations needing aid during calamities or disasters.
“This bill ultimately seeks to protect the welfare of the general public by ensuring that proceeds raised for the benefit of the vulnerable and our disadvantaged countrymen will rightfully be translated to beneficial programs that will help their causes,” she said.
According to De Lima, reported abuses in the conduct of public solicitation spurred the need to revisit the Solicitation Permit Law to protect the citizenry from exploitation by scrupulous individuals.
Notably, SB No. 2111 is a substitution of SB No. 2014 which De Lima herself authored, with inputs from House Bill No. 5342, introduced by Representatives Josephine Ramirez-Sato, Ma. Lourdes R. Aggabao, and Christina Roa-Puno, among others.
Under SB No. 2111, solicitors are required to secure a solicitation permit either from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), or the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO), and comply with several requirements before conducting a solicitation.
“All solicitation permits issued by the DSWD, the PSWDO, the CSWDO, or the MSWDO shall be valid only on the approved date of coverage which in no case shall exceed one year within the specified city, municipality, region, or areas in the Philippines,” part of the measure read.
In times of natural or human-induced calamities or disasters and the intended beneficiaries of the public solicitation are in disaster-stricken areas, the measure proposed that a temporary solicitation permit may be issued to the applicant also upon submission of a duly accomplished application form as provided by the Act.
To ensure that enough funds will be utilized entirely for projects or programs for the targeted beneficiaries, the measure proposed that not more than thirty percent of the total proceeds from the fund-raising activity of any individual, organization, or agency shall be expended for administrative cost.
Likewise, the public may inquire from the DSWD or concerned LSWDO – who have the authority to file a complaint in the appropriate court any violation of the provisions of SB No. 2111 -whether a public solicitation activity is legitimate or not.
“The DSWD, the PSWDO, [as with] the CSWDO, or the MSWDO shall, in the exercise of their regulatory powers, verify the authenticity of the report submitted by conducting spot monitoring or reviewing of the book of accounts of the concerned individual, organization, or agency,” the measure noted.
“Likewise, the DSWD is granted visitorial powers to ensure that the soliciting individuals and organizations are legitimate and that funds solicited are properly utilized,” it added.