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Solicitation Nation

I and my girlfriend were waiting for our order in one of the local restaurants (in Baguio City) when I noticed a guy who may be in his early 20s roaming around from one table to another. I realized the guy was soliciting money from the restaurant’s customers. I overheard one customer tell him “Pwede ba kumain muna kami”. I guess they just gave the guy money so that he’ll leave their table. After that, the guy approached our table.

He quietly placed a folded paper on our table. I took it and I saw the heading “Psalm of David Harmonic Orchestra, Inc.”

I looked up to the guy and asked if he has any ID. He said yes and handed me his ID. His name is Jeffrey

Psalm of David Harmonic Orchestra Solicitation Letter

This is the header of their solicitation letter. It contains their address in QC but not their Baguio address. (Click to enlarge picture)

Santos (a very common name) and his ID indicates that he’s a volunteer for Psalm of David. He also began explaining that they are a charitable organization which for nine years had been teaching indigent children how to play musical instruments; that they were doing this in order to keep them away from drugs and other vices; that they need funds to buy additional musical instruments.

I’m the type of a guy who does not want to part with his money that easily considering that money is hard to earn these days so I began asking some questions just to make sure that this is legit.

First thing I asked is if his solicitation was coordinated with the barangay. He said no. Then I asked if he has any solicitation permit, he again said no. I then asked him if the restaurant allowed him to solicit in their establishment, he didn’t say anything. I then asked the waiter if they’re allowing solicitations and the waiter had no idea.

I then told him to wait for us to finish eating. I didn’t give back his ID and solicitation letter yet so he complied.

After we’re done eating, I told him that since he does not have any solicitation permit he’s not supposed to be soliciting. I don’t know if it’s just my ego or me being fed up with all these solicitation scams but I actually demanded that he bring us to their office. He then said that their main office is in Tomas Morato, Quezon City. I asked if they have a local office and he said yes. I also asked if they have a school in the city and he also said yes.

He agreed to take us to their Baguio office but he gave us the runaround. He was basically pretending he

Jeffrey Santos of Psalm of David Harmonic Orhetra

This is the ID handed to me. The name listed is Jeffrey Santos but when we did come to their “office”, his boss kept on referring to him as “Vincent” (Click picture to enlarge)

does not know how to get there even telling us that he normally takes a taxi ride just to get there. Since he can’t tell us where their office is I and my girlfriend brought him to the nearest police station  where he was only questioned. The cops said they can’t do anything because in the first place he’s not forcing us to give money and I was like “Hey, that’s exactly their M.O.” And isn’t it a violation in itself to solicit without permit? If vagrancy and begging is prohibited how much more for this? But the cops didn’t do anything so we just left the police station.

Anyway, solicitation is rampant in this country. Some are legit and some are not. So how do we tell which are legit and which are not? Well, here are some things to consider:

  1.  If the person/s soliciting are not holding any solicitation permit, it’s most likely that the solicitation is a scam. Soliciting without any permit is actually punishable by law (PD 1564) and anyone caught doing so may be sentenced to not more than a year imprisonment or a fine or both. I guess our cops should know this.
  2. If they do not have a permit and they are not assisted by the barangay then don’t give them anything. There are also some cases where the solicitation is taking place in a school or in a restaurant. In such cases, make sure to inquire if such is permitted by the school administration or the restaurant management whichever the case may be.
  3. If they do hold a permit, check if their permit is still valid or is applicable in your locale. Yes, solicitation permits also have expiry dates so look for that. Also, check if the permit they’re holding provides that they may solicit in your area.
  4. The only valid solicitations not requiring permits I could think of are fund raisings conducted by the barangay (like if someone’s dead and your barangay kagawads will be going house to house for donations) and solicitations being done during church service.
  5. Beware because some people may also ride on the good names and reputation of established charitable organizations.

 

Back portion of the ID

This is the back portion of the ID, notice that their organization is listed as “Psalms of David Inc”, not “Psalm of David Harmonic Orchestra, Inc” like the one in the solicitation letter. A minor difference may be but a legitimate organization will not allow its name to be misspelled. (Click image to enlarge)

Do not be such a bleeding heart all the time. A lot of people out there are taking advantage of our good side. Just because they say it’s for a good cause doesn’t mean it’s really for a good cause. Do not even consider giving them money just so they’ll leave you alone. You can always courteously say no. If you want to donate go to a reputable charitable organization instead.

Going back to my story… so we left the police station but I still demanded Jeffrey to bring us to their alleged office (I don’t actually advice for you to do this, saying “no” is enough but it’s just that I was so fed up with solicitation scams- or again it could be my ego). My girlfriend, at that point, was trying to convince me to just let it go. But in my mind there’s no turning back, with or without cops. Interestingly, Jeffrey was able to lead us to their office which turned out to be their quarters (156 Lopez Jaena St, Baguio City). I guess he knows that cops won’t do anything anyway.

He didn’t let us in and told us to wait outside their gate (so apparently this religious charitable organization does not welcome people in). We waited for about 10 minutes until a lady came out smiling and opened the gate. I asked her who she was and she said she’s the one in charge of the Baguio group. I began asking her questions. I asked how long have they been in Baguio. She said Psalm of David had been in Baguio for four years. I asked where their school is and she said they have not built any music school contrary to what Jeffrey said earlier. She did say they are going house to house to teach musical instruments. I asked which locality they are teaching in. She said in a nearby municipality (Betag, La Trinidad, Benguet). She name-dropped a lawyer (Atty. Concepcion daw) whose kids she says they are tutoring. I immediately asked, “I thought you’re teaching indigent kids?” She then said they’re actually teaching anyone who’s interested in music. I also asked why are they not securing permits to solicit and she said they were not aware it is required and she even thank me for pointing that out.

I then demanded to see if they have any musical instruments to show as proof that they really are teaching musical instruments. She then called inside and shouted “Vincent”. To my surprise, “Vincent” turned out to be “Jeffrey Santos”. All the while they were talking in front of us, she kept on referring to Jeffrey as Vincent and Jeffrey was responding to that name. The only conclusion I could think of is “Jeffrey Santos” is a made up name to hide their identity. The lady actually never disclosed her name to us. So anyway, they showed us some musical instruments (a violin, a worn out beat box, a guitar, and some other string instruments), she said there are more inside but they can’t bring them all out.

At that point, though I wished to interrogate more but I’m seeing no point to continue. There are no cops to assist us, no barangay officers, but at least I did more than due diligence not to be fooled by scam solicitations.

So we left after that. But even though they did show us some musical instruments that does not mean they are in fact legit. Of course they will have to take some steps to have this color of legitimacy. They may even in fact be conducting some workshops. But they are still committing illegal solicitation because they do not have any permits. Four years of operating in the city and they still do not know that they should have permits in order for them to solicit. Four years of soliciting and they still have worn out musical instruments.

There are guidelines to be followed when soliciting money for charitable purposes. These guidelines are enforced so that solicited funds can be accounted for and to make sure that they are really appropriated for the cause so claimed. Without a permit, funds solicited can be appropriated for anything even for personal gains which donors will never know.

Did you know that under PD 1564, solicited funds are supposed to be “deposited with any authorized banking institution or with the Municipal, City or Provincial Treasurer’s Office and shall be accounted for in the name of the association, institution or organization to whom the permit was issued.”

Well now you know, this is to make sure that solicitation is really for a legit cause and to lessen scam and swindling. Sadly, not a lot of people know this and even people who are supposed to know this because they are supposed to enforce it are ignorant of it. Which is why a lot of people just give and give out of the goodness of their hearts not knowing that they are being taken advantage of. Well, I hope that by this lengthy article, you get to know what is and what’s not when it comes to solicitation and hopefully you get to spot a scammer and learn to say no. Hang tight to your hard earned money, you’ll do justice to yourself and your hard work.

PS:

It seems that Psalm of David Harmonic Orchestra is notorious since 2002. Here are web logs from Ateneo chronicling how they apprehended members of the group soliciting without a permit in some of their campuses:

https://lists.ateneo.edu/pipermail/blueboard/2002-November/001447.html

https://lists.ateneo.edu/pipermail/blueboard/2004-January/002891.html

https://lists.ateneo.edu/pipermail/blueboard/2002-November/001432.html

Again, their solicitation is for them to buy musical instruments. Shouldn’t they know by now that they need permits to solicit?

They do have a website but it’s dormant. You can check their website here. What’s intriguing is, if they really are conducting continuous workshops, shouldn’t they be proud of it and post pictures of such workshops, current ones of course.

SEC registration number of Psalm of David

Apparently, Psalm of David is SEC registered too. But this does not mean that they can dispose of the solicitation permit. Notice how this solicitation letter has been signed by a donor? So why are they handling it again if it has been signed already? How will they audit money that we will be giving? (Click image to enlarge)

 

 

About the author

Howard Chan (The Student)

Howard considers himself as an armchair activist. Though his street rally days are in a slumber he still advocates changes via social media. He is a strong believer that awareness of various social issues is a good starting point in order to break out from the stranglehold of an oppressive system which only benefits the few. He is also a full time student and a part time blogger, part time web designer, part time web manager/designer for various clients. (Note: Howard Chan passed the 2014 Bar Exams and was admitted to the Philippine Bar on April 29, 2015. That being, all posts after April 29, 2015 authored by him are now under the name Howard Chan for the purpose of distinguishing posts he made as a non-lawyer from posts he made after admission to the bar).

2 comments

2 pings

  1. ShadyLestrangey

    Thank you for this wonderful info! I, too am annoyed of these “solicitors”, there were a lot of them during the holiday season. They are in malls, jeeps, restaurants, or even going around in a house to house basis. I barely give out anything though (even loose change), because I always suspect they represent bogus charity orgs.

  2. Jan Symour Limlao

    mas madami pa dito yung army ni quiboloy.

    1. Kristine Pascual

      Army nga ni quiboloy yan

  3. Cecille Cayetano

    Two days ago, a lady with an ID claiming to be representative of Psalm of David Inc told me that she would be collecting solicitations from our hospital. She said that the poor but talented children were scheduled to sing and play to us Christmas carols but they were busy at the moment, thus she was sent instead to collect "their money". I told her, "sorry but we only donate to UNICEF because I dont want children be taken advantaged of non-legit organizations" and that our hospital render medical services (consultation and donation of medicines) directly to organizations (SOS, etc) and to barangays hit by natural calamities. She asked me to give her even small amount but I declined. My conscience has been nibbling me ever since thus I googled this organization. Thankfully I came across this story. Thank you for enlightening me.

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