House approves volunteerism for nation-building

THE House of Representatives has given the green light to the proposed “Filipino Volunteerism in Nation-Building (VNB) Act of 2012” authored by forty eight (48) lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.

“It is imperative to lay down a legal and institutional framework which would encourage the various sectors of society to volunteer and be active partners of government in nation-building,” Belmonte said after HB 6713 hurdled plenary on second reading late hours of Tuesday.

Rep. Benjamin Asilo, Chairman of the sponsoring Committee on People’s Participation said the proposed statute should not only institutionalize the VNB framework but sustain partnership among the national government agencies, the LGUs, the congressional districts, and civil society organizations in community and nation-building.

Other leading authors of HB 6713 (the substitute bill to the original HB 4374) are:  Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II with Reps. Freddie Tinga, Rufus Rodriguez, Juan Edgardo Angara, Jerry Treñas, Hermilando Mandanas, Raul Daza, Jesus Crispin Remulla, Maria Isabelle Climaco, Mel Senen Sarmiento, Rodolfo Valencia, Edcel Lagman, and Minority leader Danilo Suarez, among others.

The measure defines the mission and vision of the VNB Framework, which shall enjoin all sectors to practice “bayanihan,” harness volunteerism to stimulate local and national development, and provides the key areas of government where volunteerism shall be harnessed.

Volunteerism, as defined under HB 6713, refers to “an act involving a wide range of activities, including traditional forms of mutual aid and developmental interventions that provide an enabling and empowering environment, both on the part of the beneficiary receiving and the volunteer rendering the act, undertaken for reasons arising from socio-developmental, business or corporate orientation, commitment or conviction for the attainment of the public good and where monetary and other incentives or reward are not the primary motivating factors.”

Volunteer service organization, the authors added, refers to “a local or foreign group that recruits, trains, deploys and supports volunteer workers to programs and projects implemented by them or by other organizations or any group that provides services and resources, including but not limited to information, capability building, advocacy and networking for the attainment of the common good.”

The measure enumerates and defines the roles of key VNB national and cooperating agencies like the DSWD, DILG, DOF, DBM and HUDCC,

It also mandates the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) to serve as the VNB coordinating agency and creates a VNB Program Management Unit for the purpose.

And not the least, among other vital provisions, is the grant of incentives for VNB partners and stakeholders which shall be effective for a period of eight years, with one extension of another six years, after which these will be subject to congressional action.

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