Senator Leila M. de Lima’s measure seeking to regulate Social Welfare and Development Agencies (SWDAs) for the benefit of the vulnerable sectors has received a big boost from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
In an official communication dated Aug. 30, DSWD Secretary Joselito Bautista said his department is supporting the passage into law of Senate Bill (SB) No. 380, also referred to as the Social Welfare and Development Agencies Act (SWDA).
“The DSWD strongly supports Senate Bill No. 380, [w]hich seeks to strengthen the DSWD’s regulatory function, set standards, provide benefits and incentives, and monitor the public and private individuals, agencies and organizations engaged in social welfare and development activities,” he said.
“We wish to inform the Chairperson that this proposed bill is one of the Department’s priority legislations for the 18th Congress,” he added.
Last Sept. 5, the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development resumed its public hearing on De Lima’s proposed legislations, which include, among others, SB No. 380.
The Senate hearing, attended by the DSWD, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Philippine Council for NGO Certification and other non-government organizations, was presided over by Sen. Imee Marcos, one of the Committee’s Vice Chairperson.
Cynthia Ilano, officer in charge of DSWD – Standard Bureau, reiterated the department’s support behind De Lima’s bill, saying that it will benefit thousands from the vulnerable sectors of society.
“Sa SWDA, full support po tayo diyan,” Ilano said, citing that there are 3,894 SWDAs in the entire country, to date.
In filing SB No. 380, De Lima seeks to institutionalize the accreditation and regulation of private individuals, agencies and organizations engaged in social welfare and development activities and assure the protection of beneficiaries against malpratice and abuse by some dubious groups.
The beneficiaries include, among others, children in need of special protection, women, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, indigenous peoples, and individuals or groups in crisis situations.
De Lima noted that DSWD is mandated to evaluate the documentary requirements submitted upon finding that an applicant is legally qualified to become a SWDA, and eventually issue a certificate of registration and include the said applicant in the list of registered SWDAs.
She proposed that any person, group or organization that shall operate as SWDA without registration and license to operate from the DSWD shall be penalized with a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than PhP500,000 or imprisonment ranging from one year but not more than three years, or both.