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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

House leaders vow to prioritize passage of bills helping & protecting volunteers in the country
17 December 2019 04:21:05 PM

House Speaker Alan Peter “Compañero” Cayetano and Committee on People’s Participation Chairperson Rep. Florida “Rida” Robes (Lone District, San Jose Del Monte City) vowed to prioritize the enactment of pending bills that seek to help and protect volunteers in the country.

The House leaders made the commitment on Monday during the awarding ceremony for the 10 Outstanding Volunteers for 2019 at the House of Representatives South Wing Lobby. The recognition ceremony was part of the celebration of the National Volunteers Month.

The House, through the Committee on People's Participation, in partnership with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), hosted the awarding ceremony. This year’s 10 awardees are Aliah Alam (Individual-Youth Category), Dr. Zsa-Zsa May Meneses, Joel Dela Costa and Engineer Cristeta Gallano (Individual-Adult Category), Soroptimist International of Mandaluyong (SIM) and the University of La Salette Inc. High School (ULSHS) (Non-Profit Organization Category), Barangay Poblacion, Burgos, Ilocos Norte, Mandaluyong City, and Municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet (Special Award for LGU-Category), and Dr. Romulo Davide (Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award-Category).

In her welcome remarks, Robes said the awarding ceremony is timely as it provides House Members an opportunity to express their appreciation for the significant role of volunteers in nation-building and development and the lawmakers’ support for the National Volunteer Month. “Historically, volunteerism in the Philippines has had long, rich, diverse, cultural tradition. It remains embedded in the tradition of sharing and of helping and employs various indigenous meanings such as Bayanihan, Damayan, Kawanggawa, and Bahaginan,” Robes said.

The Speaker, in his keynote speech delivered by Rep. Macnell Lusotan (Party-list, MARINO), thanked the country’s volunteers and for the many benefits of volunteerism. “Let us recognize these volunteers for their sacrifices—for setting their sights beyond the material comforts of home; for donating their time and resources; and for their untiring efforts to uplift the community,” he said.

He cited that there are about 900 million volunteers in the world and 25 million volunteers in the Philippines alone. “No less than the United Nations posited that volunteering is an important component of any strategy aimed at poverty reduction, sustainable development, health, disaster prevention and management. Economically, our own Philippine Statistics Authority reports that the total value of volunteer work has been on the rise,” the Speaker said.

In the past, the Speaker said the House has supported the global theme “Volunteering for the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.” Today, he said they also hope to enact laws supporting volunteerism. On this note, the Speaker said the House will revisit Republic Act 9418 or the “Volunteer Act of 2007”. The Speaker said that in the last Congress, one of the important achievements of the House was its approval of a measure that gives protection to volunteers who provide assistance during emergencies against possible liability that may be caused by their actions. “This proposed Emergency Volunteer Protection Act, refiled by six young legislators, was already approved by the Committee on People’s Participation," he said.

To end, the Speaker urged every one to be part of citizen-based volunteer activities in its many forms and relive the practice of Bayanihan. “Indeed, we recognize that volunteering, as one of the most effective mechanisms of people’s participation, will translate our hope into action. Let us now work hand-in-hand to achieve the Filipino vision of a matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay,” he said.