Press Release
October 24, 2013

Cayetano files "e-Bayanihan" measure for calamity victims

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano is asking two Senate panels to determine the viability of establishing a more permanent mechanism of enabling millions of Filipinos to send donations to calamity victims using the country's text-messaging system.

Following up on his earlier proposal, Cayetano filed Resolution No. 319 which urges the Senate Committees on National Defense and Security and on Public Services to conduct such an inquiry, with the end view of institutionalizing a national donation transfer system for cellphone users.

"I believe that such a mechanism will allow every Filipino with a cellphone in hand to directly contribute and be a bayani to those affected by disasters and calamities. Imagine how much we can raise for those who need help by simply sending a text message," the Senate leader said.

"This new sense of empowerment will also stir up the bayanihan spirit in all of us. I know most of us want to help. All we need is an easier way to do so."

As most congressional inquiries are in aid of legislation, Cayetano said the Senate panels can also determine if legislation is needed to effect such a proposal.

"There is also a need to ensure that this system of making micro-donations continues to be convenient, reliable, and available at all times to all willing donors, whether based here or abroad, regardless of the size of operations and/or donations, without causing undue burden to the service providers," he said in the resolution.

He recalled that within a span of a month, three natural and man-made disasters have affected a significant number of Filipinos all over the country, citing the just-concluded Zamboanga City crisis, the destruction brought about by typhoon Santi and the recent earthquake that devastated Bohol and Cebu.

"We should enable those who offered prayers for the calamity victims to reinforce their compassion with action," Cayetano expressed.

He also disclosed that he has already written to Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), urging the official to jumpstart discussions with the Bangko Sentral and mobile service money providers on how a text-based donations system can be established as soon as possible.

"The NTC and the BSP as regulators of mobile money service providers are in the best position to ensure that the system of sending micro-donations via text messages is institutionalized and that the necessary framework, regulations and incentives to promote the use of mobile money for charitable purposes are put in place," Cayetano explained. "In a country where mobile phones outnumber the population, every texter is a potentialbayani. It would empower every Filipino whose heart goes out to the calamity victims to actually make a difference even with their P1," the senator earlier said.

He said with 100 million text messages - a small portion of the SMS traffic sent out by Filipinos on a daily basis - some P100 million can be raised through a "text-to-donate" type of system.

Aside from the simple SMS-based system of donating, Cayetano said telcos Smart and Globe have Smart Money and G-Cash, respectively, to facilitate fund transfers easily from one subscriber to another, thereby making donations easier and faster.

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