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Volunteers in calamity areas to get incentives

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Volunteers may soon receive financial, medical and other non-pecuniary benefits during typhoon, earthquake, fire, and other disasters or calamity.
“Volunteer responders deserve to be rewarded by financial, medical and or other non-pecuniary benefits as a way to retain them for such emergency, disaster or calamity services, natural or man-made,” Rep. Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City).
Castelo cited the cases of volunteers who died and wounded while rescuing people during typhoons and fire.
Castelo said the country is prone to disasters, calamities or emergencies that threaten limbs and lives of the people.
“When such phenomenon, man-made or natural, strikes, not few individuals or families are affected, become victims, get injured and suffer socio-economic dislocation which may be temporary or even permanent,” Castelo said.
Castelo authored House Bill 5658, which grants incentives to the volunteers in recognition of their unique role of providing timing and actual services of saving people from harm or possible death from disasters, calamities and other emergencies.
Castelo said the proposed Volunteer Responders Incentives Protection Act hopes to retain the services of the volunteers and encourage others to render selfless services to the country and the people in times of emergencies.
“The reality is that volunteers who undertake the challenge to save and bring the lives of people to safety and away from harm become victims themselves of disasters, calamites or emergencies,” Castelo said.
“Either they become injured in the process or at times they also become casualties leaving behind their families unable to carry on with their daily lives,” Castelo added.
Castelo said the government cannot turn deaf and blind to the now commonplace fact that this area of volunteer emergency services must be aggressively tapped given that the growing challenge that is facing it today is recruitment and retention.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.