Cebu City ordered to get a permit

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Saturday, January 11, 2014


THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas has directed the Cebu City Government to secure a permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its fund-raising drive to build a new city hospital.

Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol yesterday confirmed he issued the directive, requiring the City to get solicitation permit for its “Piso Mo, Hospital Ko” campaign.

The campaign, which the City Government launched last October, aims to raise funds to rebuild the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), which was condemned by state engineers after it was damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15. 

Apostol and Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella met last year and discussed the matter.

Interviewed over the phone, Apostol said Labella agreed with the ombudsman’s legal view that the City needs to secure a solicitation permit from DSWD.

Requirement

“There is no complaint filed yet. But if there is (a complaint filed), we cannot help you anymore. We shall do what we ought to do,” Apostol recalled telling Labella.

He reiterated that both private and public institutions are required to secure a permit from appropriate state agencies before holding any fund-raising drive.

Solicitation is a regulated act, Apostol pointed out, since without the permit, it would be hard to account for spending of public funds due to the lack of reportorial requirement. 

The City’s fund drive generated over P8 million last year. Some P1 billion is needed to rebuild the new hospital.

The Department of Health also pledged P500 million for the project.

Apostol earlier suggested to city officials to secure a permit from the DSWD, pursuant to Presidential Decree (PD) 1564, or the Solicitation Permit Law.

Section 2 of PD 1564 states that “any person, corporation, organization or association desiring to solicit or receive contributions for charitable and public welfare purposes shall first secure a permit from the regional offices of Department of Social Services and Development.”

But City Hall lawyer Gerone Castillo earlier said the law does not apply to the City’s “piso-piso” campaign since it does not mention local government units (LGUs). 

Castillo cited Section 18 of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code, which allows local government units to raise funds without securing a permit from any state agencies.

Purpose

Apostol said a fund drive by any state agency is regulated and, if granted a permit, is required to submit financial report to the government.

The purpose of the permit is to have a proper accounting of the money collected during the fund drive, Apostol said.

“You should report how much you have collected from the fund drive. The campaign is also subject to an audit by COA (Commission on Audit),” he said.

Without the permit, the public will have no way of knowing how much is deposited into the trust liability account of the government unit.

Apostol said his office is duty-bound to stop any illegal activities by public officials.

Apart from a solicitation permit, Apostol said the fund campaign also needs a resolution from the City Council.

Without the council’s nod, Apostol said the fund drive will appear arbitrary since the decision to launch it was solely upon the mayor’s discretion.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 12, 2014.

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