FAST FACTS: The Boy Scouts of the Philippines

Reynaldo Santos Jr
FAST FACTS: The Boy Scouts of the Philippines
National presidents used to hold the BSP post for only two years but Binay has held on to the position for close to two decades. Why is it of interest?

MANILA, Philippines – The ongoing probe into the corruption case against Vice President Jejomar Binay has dragged the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) into the picture.

At the Senate hearing on Thursday, January 22, former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado accused Binay of getting around P200 million in 2010 from a deal between Alphaland and the BSP.

Binay has been the BSP national president for almost two decades now, while Mercado was senior vice president from 2004 to 2007.

Scouting was estimated to be brought to the Philippines by the Americans in around 1910. They even established the Philippine Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in 1923 to launch a nationwide scouting movement here.

But it was only in 1936 when the BSP was established via Commonwealth Act 111, signed by then president Manuel Quezon on October 31 that year. This law states that the purpose of the BSP shall be “to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods which are now in common use by boy scouts.”

Commonwealth Act 111 was amended twice: first in 1974 via Presidential Decree 460, and then in 1992 via Republic Act 7278.

The main office of the BSP is in Ermita, Manila.

Composition

UNVEILED. Vice President Jejomar Binay and other scouting officers unveil the plans for the Scout Memorial Hall. Photo by Rappler/Leanne Jazul

Based on the 2013 report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the BSP is composed of the BSP-National Office, National Scouts Shop with 5 branches, and 118 local councils.

The BSP is said to have around two million members. The membership fee collected in schools is P50 for scouts and P60 for unit leaders, but membership “is voluntary and shall not be made a condition for enrolment, transfer or clearance of pupils and students.” Scouts and scouters are entitled to financial assistance in case of accidents.

The law states that the “National Council and the National Executive Board shall have the power to hold their meetings and keep the seal, books, documents, and papers of the corporation within or without the Metropolitan Manila.”

The National Council includes the following:

  • Members of the National Executive Board
  • Charter members
  • Regional commissioners
  • Chairmen and commissioners of all local scout councils

The National Executive Board, on the other hand, consists of:

  • A charter member of the BSP who shall be elected by the members of the National Council
  • Regional chairmen of the scouts regions who shall be elected by the representatives of all the local scouts councils of the region
  • The Secretary of Education 
  • The National President of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines
  • A senior scout each from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, to be elected by the senior scout delegates of the local scout councils to the scout youth forums in their respective areas 
  • 12 regular members to be elected by the members of the National Council
  • 10 to 15 additional members from the private sector who shall be elected by the members of the National Executive Board

These board members will elect the following officers among themselves:

  • National President
  • Senior Vice-President
  • A vice-president each from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao

The law also states that the president of the Philippines automatically becomes the Chief Scout of the BSP.

Binay, the current national president, has been criticized for holding the position for about 20 years now. He first served in 1994 to 1996, was again elected in 1999 until the present.

Mercado told Rappler that former national presidents used to hold the position for about two years only. Previous national presidents include former Parañaque City representative Roilo Golez (1985-1986) and former Bulacan governor and tourism secretary Roberto Pagdanganan (1996-1998).

The BSP is not spared from issues of politics, as most of its officers are also government officials, including Binay. In late 2014, the BSP asked via a message, to spare the BSP from political controversies “for the boys and girls who are members of it.”

Properties

In the 2013 COA report, it was revealed that the BSP has assets worth more than P3 billion, including more than P68 million worth of land properties.

The BSP properties include the property in Malugay Street and Ayala Avenue Extension donated to the group in 1976, which is now the center of a questionable deal with property developer Alphaland.

The BSP was also reported to own a luxury hotel at a property on Mt Makiling that the organization is leasing from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños. The Philippine Daily Inquirer even reported that Binay attempted to gain control of the leased lot.

The COA report also revealed that “there were 65 lots with a total land area of 2,266.54 hectares or 22.665 million square meters with a total estimated value of P143.397 million owned by BSP but unbooked and unregistered/untitled in the name of BSP.” 

Government audit

In 1991, then president Corazon Aquino signed Executive Order 495 which ordered the conversion of at least 3 government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) into private corporations, among them the BSP. However, she issued Executive Order 509 the following year to exclude the BSP from the earlier order.

But despite being a GOCC, it was never subject to a COA audit. In 1999, COA issued Resolution No. 99-011, which ordered that the BSP should be subject to an annual financial audit.

Binay protested the resolution in court, claiming that the BSP “is neither a unit of the Government; a department which refers to an executive department as created by law; nor a bureau which refers to any principal subdivision or unit of any department.”

The Supreme Court ruled with finality in 2011 that the BSP is a public corporation and therefore subject to government audit. COA began auditing the BSP’s financial transactions only in 2012.

The 2013 COA report showed that the BSP has an income of around P14 million. COA, however, asked the organization in 2014 to produce records that would support the validity of its total declared collections for 2012 and 2013. – Rappler.com

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