DSWD backs De Lima’s bill vs dubious NGOs

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has supported Senator Leila M. de Lima’s proposed measure seeking stricter rules and regulations for groups engaged in social welfare and development services for the vulnerable sectors.

In an official communication dated March 15, DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista expressed his department’s support for the passage into law of Senate Bill No. 2011 which he considers as one of DSWD’s “priority” bills.

“We are continuously advocating for its immediate enactment into law,” Bautista said in a letter sent to the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development which De Lima chairs.

SB No. 2011, or An Act Strengthening the Regulation of Social Welfare and Development Agencies, seeks to institutionalize the accreditation and regulation of private individuals, agencies, and organizations engaged in social welfare and development activities.

The lady Senator from Bicol noted that the said Senate measure aims to protect beneficiaries against malpractice, abuse, and exploitation by several practitioners and groups.

“Our recent history has shown that even these institutions, which are supposed to be operating to perform humanitarian functions, can be used to commit crimes that seek to use the resources meant for the beneficiaries for personal gains,” De Lima said in filing the measure in 2018.

“In order to prevent similar situations from happening, we must clearly establish a process that can help donors to verify the legitimacy of the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) as well as provide them with recourse against fake NGOs,” she added.

In a separate letter dated Oct. 11, 2018, then Acting Secretary Virginia Orogo also assured De Lima of DSWD’s firm support for her SB No. 2011.

“The Department of Social Welfare and Development supports Senate Bill No. 2011 [i]ntroduced by the Chairperson, which seeks to strengthen DSWD’s regulatory functions, set standards, provide benefits and incentives, and monitor the public and private individuals, agencies and organizations engaged in social welfare and development activities,” Orogo wrote.

Under SB No. 2011, social welfare and development service providers, also known as social welfare and development agencies (SWDAs), need to secure their registration and license from the DSWD.

All registered and licensed SWDAs also need to obtain their accreditation from DSWD to enjoy the benefits and privileges, including endorsement for cash incentives or tax exemption, and for 50 percent discount to electricity, water and telephone services, among many others. It may be recalled that it was during De Lima’s term as justice secretary that the government filed criminal charges against unscrupulous individuals involved in the “pork barrel scam” masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles using dubious or fake NGOs.

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