SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
With a vote of 166-6 without abstention, the House of Representatives this week approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 7033, seeking to create a registration, licensing, and accreditation system for social welfare and development agencies (SWDAs).
Authored principally by Rep. Anthony Bravo, the proposed "Social Welfare and Development Agencies Act" aims to ensure effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability in the delivery of quality social welfare and development programs and services.
It defines a SWDA as "a non-stock, non-profit corporation, organization, association, or cooperative engaged in providing, directly or indirectly, social welfare and development programs and services." The bill mandates that an entity's finances must be obtained either totally or in part from any government agency or instrumentality, whether foreign or local, or from the community by direct or indirect solicitations and other fund-generating activities authorized by law in order to qualify as a SWDA.
SWDAs are classified as either a social welfare agency (SWA) or an auxiliary SWDA.
A SWA employs social workers, community development workers, and other qualified paraprofessionals who have related trainings and experiences that directly provide restorative, preventive, and developmental programs and services to the underprivileged and marginalized. A SWA may be a residential based agency, community based agency, or a child placing agency.
Meanwhile, an auxiliary SWDA provides supportive activities in the delivery of social welfare development programs and services such as grant of funds, conduct of trainings, and other resources to help in the efficient operations of SWAs. Auxiliary SWDAs may be a people’s organization, resource agency, or a social welfare and development network.
Licensed and accredited SWAs as well as registered SWDAs are eligible for grant benefits and privileges.
SWAs shall enjoy, among other benefits, technical assistance in the areas of capability building, packaging of project proposal, provision materials, and skills enhancement to strengthen program and service implementation; endorsement to other agencies on the availment of working visas of foreign board members, employees, or volunteers; and endorsement to the Department of Finance (DOF) for duty-free importation of foreign donations subject to compliance with the prescribed requirements.
In addition to the benefits and privileges granted a registered SWDA, a licensed SWA shall be entitled to endorsement to the DOF for duty and tax-free importation of foreign donations subject to compliance with the prescribed requirements; resource augmentation for program implementation, subject to compliance with the requirement as may be established by the DSWD; and others.
An accredited SWA, on other hand, shall enjoy the aforementioned benefits in addition to various other privileges such as cash incentinves; endorsement to the DOF for donee institution status and other tax incentives; endorsement for resource augmentation; and endorsement to utility providers for at least a 50 percent grant discount on electricity, water consumption, and telephone service costs.
The bill also mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to have reinforced regulatory powers and functions over agencies and organizations engaged in social welfare and development activities.
Functions of the DSWD shall include collection of application fees for registration, licensing, and accreditation. Monitoring of SWDAs and their dissolution also fall under the purview of the DSWD.
The DSWD shall have the authority to register and license SWDAs and accredit programs and services of these organizations.
SWDAs that operate without registration or license will be penalized with a fine of P100,000 to P500,000, or imprisonment ranging from one to three years. (CMB Engracia)