Groups lament tighter rules for setting up NGOs

Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Leaders of legitimate organizations are worried over the government’s pronouncements of reforms to regulate foundations and non-government organizations (NGOs) in the aftermath of the pork barrel scam.

It now takes P1 million or more to put up and register a foundation or an NGO that helps the poor.

With the capital requirement and other procedures that would be asked by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),  only those with ample funds can set up a foundation or an NGO.

Anton Mari Lim, co-founder and president of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation that is helping poor island communities in the country, was among the NGO leaders who were shocked over revelations of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

“But people, especially the government, should refrain from taking knee-jerk reactions,” Lim said.

Lim’s foundation builds “school boats” that has spared thousands of public school children in coastal communities from having to swim kilometers to go to school.

Lim, who was cited last week as one of the four Cobra Pinoy Heroes of 2013, lamented that there were proposals to make the registration of NGOs and foundations stricter.

If government authorities would make it hard to form groups to implement  community development programs to help poor families, many would think twice about volunteering, Lim said.

“The SEC should beef up instead its monitoring and actual inspection of registered foundations, not require more money and paper work.”

Lim said the pork barrel scam involving bogus NGOs by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles has destroyed people’s trust in good NGOs.

Napoles’ foundations were set up for tax evasion, money laundering, and other nefarious activities, he said.

However, legitimate groups suffered “collateral damage” and became the butt of jokes, Lim said.

Lim, a veterinarian-businessman in Zamboanga City, said current requirements for registration of NGOs and foundations as adequate. What is needed, he said, is diligence and alertness by the SEC to check papers filed before acceptance and approval of groups.

A fellow Cobra Pinoy Hero 2013 awardee, 19-year-old Arriza Ann Nocum, a junior Industrial Engineering student at UP-Diliman under an Oblation scholarship, shared Lim’s apprehensions about additional hardship for NGOs.

ANTON MARI LIM ARRIZA ANN NOCUM COBRA PINOY HERO COBRA PINOY HEROES INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING JANET LIM-NAPOLES LIM SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION YELLOW BOAT OF HOPE FOUNDATION ZAMBOANGA CITY
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