‘Just follow the law’
Soliciting donations for calamity victims for any other worthy causes may land you in jail. Thanks to a 1933 law that remains in force up to this day.
Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol yesterday said Commonwealth Act 4075 or the Solicitation Permit Law, which was amended in 1978 by Presidential Decree 1564, regulates the “solicitation of donations and voluntary contributions in order to obviate illegal fund drives.”
The law mandated those who want to raise funds through public solicitation to first seek a permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Anyone who violates the law, shall upon conviction, suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not more than one year or a fine of not more than P1,000, or both jail term and fine at the discretion of the court.
“I’m just saying we have this law. Just heed what it says and there will be no issue against you. It’s a shame for us Filipinos if we disregard existing laws of our country,” Apostol told reporters yesterday morning.
He said no one is exempted from complying with the Solicitation Permit Law, not even the government, civic and professional organizations, employees association, corporations, as well as state colleges and universities that desire to solicit or receive contributions from the public for charitable or public welfare purposes.
Apostol on Monday called on the Cebu City government to stop its “Piso Mo, Hospital Ko” campaign which was aimed at raising enough funds for the construction of a new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC). The fund drive doesn’t have a permit from the DSWD.
“Just to clarify, the Cebu City government is not the Ombudsman’s opponent. The city government is even our partner. But I would just like to remind them about the law regulating solicitations. If the city will just follow the guidelines, then we’ll have no problem,” Apostol explained. Once the city government secures a permit from the DSWD, he said, they can go on with their “piso-piso campaign.”
Apostol said even the Ombudsman Visayas had to secure a permit from DSWD when the anti-graft office conducted a solicitation drive for its anti-corruption theatrical play. He then showed reporters a copy of the DSWD permit.
“It’s about time for people to know that we have a law regulating solicitations. I’m not uttering empty words here. We have the Solicitation Permit Law. And even private foundations are not exempted,” Apostol said.
As of now, no complaint was filed before the Ombudsman with regard to soliciting funds without any permit from the DSWD or the local government unit which has jurisdiction over it. But Apostol said he wants people to take into consideration the existing law so as to avoid being charged later on.
“In the case of the City Hall’s ‘piso-piso’ campaign, I could not see any bad faith on their part. But now that they were already informed about the law, it’s a different thing. If they don’t heed the law, then there’s bad faith,” he said.
Apostol explained that the Solicitation Permit Law as well as the succeeding administrative orders from the DSWD were aimed to ensure that all donations reach the recipients.
“Solicitations have been regulated because it can be subject to abuse. There are fake organizations out there which take advantage of the situation and collect donations from people. The donations eventually end up in their pockets. We don’t allow that to happen. Solicitation is not prohibited per se. But please follow the guidelines and the processes,” he said.
In Administrative Order 14, the DSWD, explained why solicitations are being regulated. The order signed by former Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral states they want to “promote transparency and accountability of persons, organizations, associations, and corporations that solicit funds from the public for charitable purposes; ensure efficient management of funds solicited from the public; ensure compliance to rules and regulations that were issued solicitation permit; and to provide and implement the penalties against violators.”
Aside from securing a permit, an applicant for a local fund drive shall be charged with a processing fee of P500 and P1,000 for national funds drives.
The amount collected accrue and be deposited to the National Treasury under the General Fund.
“No solicitation from the public shall be conducted without first securing a solicitation permit from the DSWD except for those organizations covered by a charter or special law that specifically provides them an authority to solicit and/or conduct fund drives,” the DSWD administrative order states.
If the solicitation activity will be undertaken in one city or municipality, the local executive is authorized to issue a permit. But for government agencies, they shall secure a permit from the DSWD.
Last Oct. 21, Mayor Michael Rama launched the “Piso Mo, Hospital Ko” campaign in order to raise P1.5 billion for the construction of a hospital building that will replace the 45-year-old CCMC.
The city government also opened a trust account with Banco de Oro where donors may deposit their share. The CCMC was deemed “unfit for occupancy” by the Office of the Building Official and private structural engineers after it sustained structural damage due to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu and Bohol last Oct. 15.
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