The private and public sectors are pushing for the early passage of House Bill 4374 that will mobilize all sectors of Philippine society in the fight against poverty through volunteerism.Appearing before the House Committee on People's Participation, chaired by Rep. Benjamin Asilo (1st District, Manila), Tony Meloto, Gawad Kalinga founder, said the bill would create a win-win situation because the poor and those who participate in this undertaking will be blessed. "The poor Filipino families will have a shelter and the land increases in value because of the development made in the target area," Meloto said. "The bill is more than a volunteerism bill, it is love of country and a call for everyone to be a nation-builder," Meloto said, adding "it is time to transcend politics and partisanship to end poverty in the country." Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., one of the prime movers of the bill, said the goal of the measure is to encourage the private sector to be a supporter of government, restore faith of citizens in government institutions through collaboration, and go beyond partisan politics, religious and ideological differences and business rivalries. Among the salient features of the bill, to be known as the Filipino Volunteerism in National Building (VNB), is the creation of a Special Housing Fund (SHF), which shall serve as the government's equity under the VNB framework to be used principally for a VNB shelter program. "The essence of the bill is volunteerism, in tapping the innate concern of every Filipino and does not run in conflict with the conditional cash transfer program (CCT)," said Director Margarita Sampang of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). DSWD OIC Secretary Alicia Bala said the measure will complement the existing Bayanihang Bayan program of the government created under Presidential Memorandum Order No. 45, which aims to build a strong partnership between the government and the private sector in the implementation of government projects. Ronald Fontanilla, Director of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said the special housing fund will be a significant factor at addressing the projected 5.8 Million housing backlog by 2016. "The local government units (LGUs) will play a critical role in the development of local housing plans, with the HUDCC providing technical support to them. This role should be highlighted in the bill," Fontanilla said. Darlene Marie Berberabe of the Pag-IBIG Fund said the Home Development Mutual Fund supports the proposed bill as it aims to promote and achieve nation building through community-based social economic and poverty alleviation programs and projects pursuant to national sustainable human development. "The Fund also recognizes the importance of community building through shelter and infrastructure programs under the VNB mission-vision framework," Berberabe said. Eulogio Sabban of the Office of the President's Legislative Office said the Executive Department supports the institutionalization of volunteerism and public-private partnerships as strategic tools for nation building, which is one of the pillars of the President's economic agenda. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), a co-author of the bill, said the measure seeks to harness the bayanihan spirit among Filipinos and encourage private sector participation. Deputy Speaker Maria Isabelle Climaco (1st District, Zamboanga City), another author of the measure, said that it will harness government resources in partnership with other sectors to realize housing and other social programs and should be passed in coordination with other government agencies to avoid duplication of functions. "The measure encourages volunteerism regardless of age and Gawad Kalinga is an example of a success story in volunteerism," said Rep. Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City). The co-authors of the bill are Reps. Sigfrido Tinga (2nd District, Taguig City), Hermilando Mandanas (2nd District, Batangas), Raul Daza (1st District, Northern Samar), Jesus Crispin Remulla (7th District Cavite), Neptali Gonzales II (Lone District, Mandaluyong), Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay), Amado Bagatsing (5th District, Manila), Rodolfo Valencia (1st District, Oriental Mindoro), Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora), Lucy Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte), Henedina Abad (Lone District, Batanes), Jorge John Banal (3rd District, Quezon City), Bernadette Herrera-Dy (PL-BAGONG HENERASYON), and Fatima Aliah Dimaporo (2nd District, Lanao del Norte). (30) aam
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