Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure seeking to guarantee the full enjoyment of the fundamental rights of the poor by granting them ready access to government services and encouraging private sector’s investments in pro-poor programs.
De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 2010, also known as “Magna Carta of the Poor,” which defines the fundamental rights of the poor to adequate food, decent work, relevant and quality education, housing, and the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health.
“Recognizing that food, work, education, shelter and health are the foremost fundamental rights that lie at the very core of human rights and human dignity, this law aims to at least assuage the ills that hamper the rise of the members of the Philippine society who have been left helpless at the gutter for the longest time,” she said.
Based on the 2015 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, about 16.5 percent of Filipino families or 21.5 percent of the entire population are poor, meaning that 21.9 million Filipinos do not have sufficient income to afford basic food and non-food needs.
Under the measure, the government shall provide the requirements, conditions and opportunities for the full employment of the rights of the poor to food, housing, education, decent work, and highest standard of mental and physical health. “These fundamental rights will be prioritized in the name of this law, in harmony with all the other priorities of the State, to the end that putting premium on poverty alleviation will be for the advancement of the Filipino as a whole,” she said.
The measure also mandates the government to prioritize investments in anti-poverty programs that would enable the poor to fully participate in the growth and development in the country.
It also compels the government to give full access to its services to the poor or to those individuals and families who cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide minimum needs of food, health, education, housing and other essential amenities of life.
Furthermore, the measure also seeks to enlist the private sector as the government’s development partners in financing and implementing poverty alleviation programs and projects.
“It is high time we hear the plea of the people. The State shall be their refuge,” said De Lima, who as the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development continues to file meaningful measures even while under detention.
“Difficulty should not be confused with impossibility, and as the vanguard of social justice, the State shall ensure that the welfare of the people will be the true measure of progress and stability in accord with sustainability and fiscal realities,” she added.
Understanding that government expenditures should be in harmony with the availability of funds, De Lima said that the measure has to be implemented through a system of “Progressive Realization” – a process of implementation which will be paced according to the availability of funds that adjusts to the exigencies of the Filipino poor.
De Lima’s bill tasks the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to design and establish a single system of classifying the targeted beneficiaries of the government’s anti-poverty programs and projects.
It also mandates all government agencies to formulate a comprehensive and convergent plan that sets the thresholds to be achieved for each of the recognized rights of the poor in participation of the local government units and basic sectors.