Recognizing the crucial role played by volunteers, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. has filed a bill which aims to reward them with incentives and protect them from liability while performing their duties.
In filing the measure, Revilla has noted that celebrities and ordinary Filipinos have linked arms to form armies of volunteers to offer support, assistance and compassion to people in need, conquering their own fears and reservations, and overcoming the risks amid the threat posed by the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Revilla’s Senate Bill No. 1511, or the “Emergency Volunteer Protection Act,” which, if passed into law, would create an “enabling and conducive environment for volunteer work” by protecting them from liabilities for acts committed in the performance of their duties during emergency situations.
Under the measure, a volunteer “properly licensed, certified or authorized” either by government entities, non-government organizations or the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) should not be held liable for harm caused by an act or omission done in the performance of his or her duties or functions; or the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights and safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer.
The measure also seeks to ensure that emergency volunteers shall receive incentives to be sponsored or facilitated by the PNVSCA.
The bill mandates the PNVSCA to provide, trainings, seminars and similar avenues for further education and skills improvement; additional special privilege leave benefits; and employment merits commensurate to the length, kind and quality of volunteer work and service rendered that may translate to appointment, promotion, salary increase, regularization, or similar career and professional advancement.
SBN 1511 has been referred to the Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development while a counterpart measure has already been approved at the House of Representatives./Stacy Ang