Sen. Alan Peter S. Cayetano has bared plans to push for an institutionalized system of enabling Filipinos to send donations for victims of calamities via text messages in the wake of the powerful earthquake that struck the Visayas region last week.
“We have seen an outpour of emotional support to Bohol and Cebu and I am almost sure that almost every one of us would want to help in any way we can to help our fellow Filipinos affected by the recent earthquake,” Cayetano said.
“So why not make sending a donation as easy as sending a text message? It would empower every Filipino whose heart goes out to the calamity victims to actually make a difference even with their P1.”
He said that this would promote and greatly encourage the Filipino’s “spirit of bayanihan” during times of disaster, by using only their mobile phones to send their donations to fellow Pinoys.
Cayetano explained that if 100 million text messages — which is only a small portion of the SMS traffic sent out by Filipinos on a daily basis — would be directed to a “text-to-donate” type of system, then it would easily raise P100 million in actual funds for the victims.
“It has been done before by the DSWD, Bantay Bata, Red Cross, and PLDT-Smart Foundation but what I want is for this system to be used whenever calamities strike. The application of this project was very limited,” Cayetano explained.
“We need to institutionalize and strengthen what was done before so that we can enable everyone who may wish to donate by way of text messaging to calamity victims in the future.”
In order for this endeavor to materialize and succeed, the lawmaker is urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, along with telecommunications giants Smart and Globe, to discuss how such a donation system can be consolidated and institutionalized to raise funds for victims of calamities.
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.
The alarming rate at which calamities hit the Philippines this year should be enough reason for the said entities to work together in coming up with an easier way to send help to devastated areas, he added.
“Many want to extend help to the victims but find it difficult to do so. We need to establish an easier method by which to send assistance to those heavily affected by calamities,” Cayetano stressed.
With the Philippines being hit by almost an increasing number of typhoons every year, Cayetano said that an easier and simpler method for raising funds for relief efforts in response to emergency situations was necessary.
“We have the technology. And in a country where cellphones outnumber the population, we really could consider every texter as a potential donor,” Cayetano pointed out.
“And additionally, those who would contribute using this SMS-based donation system can feel the warmth and satisfaction of sending actual help for calamity victims, no matter how small the amount.”
He said that funds raised through the said donation scheme could go directly to the governor of the province devastated by a calamity.
“Raising funds can be as easy as buying a sim card and registering. Like with the recent earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, hospitals in need of assistance or the DOH could have donations sent in through text messages to a certain SIM card,” the senator explained.
The 14 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) could also be tapped for donations through a text message-based donation system, he said.
He explained that the difficulties encountered by those who wanted to help the victims served a second blow to the nation that was already suffering from calamities.
“Even though they are not in the country, most of them want to help. They can use remittances or buy load abroad and immediately send in donations if we have a system in place for this,” Cayetano said.
“They are willing to donate but it is so difficult to send help back home,” he pointed out.