A legislator has pushed for the passage of a bill that recognizes the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) as an independent, voluntary, autonomous non-governmental organization (NGO).
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte filed House Bill (HB) 7025 that institutes a new charter for the BSP.
Villafuerte said it “will also pave the way for the installation of a more concrete institution for youth development, making BSP more attuned to the changing calls of the time and to the growing challenges that our youth are facing every day.”
Villafuerte, vice chairperson of the House committee on appropriations, said HB 7025 envisions the BSP as an “independent, voluntary, non-stock, non-sectarian, non-political, autonomous NGO" that shall maintain its membership with the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM).
"Declaring the BSP as an independent NGO auxiliary to the Republic of the Philippines is similar to the newly enacted Charter of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) under RA 10072," Villafuerte said.
He said “revving up” the BSP as an independent NGO supports President Rodrigo Duterte's tough policy against illicit drugs as HB 7025 aims to further encourage young Filipinos to go into scouting and shun harmful vices such as drug and alcohol abuse.
Villafuerte's bill retains the President of the Philippines as the Chief Scout and the Vice President as the Vice Chief Scout, who will become honorary members of the BSP but are not deemed to be members of the organization’s National Executive Board (NEB), unless they are duly elected as members in accordance with the provisions of the BSP Act and By-Laws.
HB 7025 also ensures the BSP continues to enjoy the privilege of being exempted from the payment of all kinds of taxes and duties.
Under the bill, the NEB will have as members the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd); Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG); and National President of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP).
The NEB’s members also include the regular chairmen of the geographical regions to be known as Scout Regions; and one Senior/Rover Scout each from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao areas, to be elected during the conference of Scouts ages 13-26 known as the Scout Youth Forum in their respective geographical areas.
The NEB will also include 12 regular members to be elected by the members of the National Council in its meeting called for this purpose; 15 additional members from the private sector; and the immediate past president of the Board as ex-officio member.
Villafuerte noted the BSP’s significant role on youth development aids the school system to mold pupils and students into responsible citizens of the country.
“It has an exemplary contribution not only in achieving quality education but also in providing a co-curricular program that prevents the youth from involving themselves in drugs and other vices. As such, membership and participation in Boy Scouting and its programs, projects and activities should be encouraged and supported by the schools,” he said.
“With all its insurmountable impact in the society, President Rodrigo Duterte as the Chief Scout, endorses the inclusion of the Scouting Program in the school curriculum and making Scouting membership mandatory in all schools.”