Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed elation over the Senate’s approval on third and final reading of two of her key social justice measures that seek to champion the cause of the vulnerable members of the society, notably the poor and the senior citizens.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said she is “humbled and grateful” that her colleagues pushed for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 2121 or the “Magna Carta of the Poor” and Senate Bill (SB) No. 2159 or the “National Commission for Senior Citizens Act.” “I express my deepest gratitude to my colleagues in the Senate for supporting these meaningful legislative measures that would allow for the marginalized and the elderly to live a decent life,” she said.
“Sa pamamagitan ng mga panukalang batas na ito, pagkakalooban ng sapat na ayuda ang mas nangangailangan nating mga kababayan. Sa halip na maging biktima ng kahirapan, karahasan at pagbalewala sa karapatan nilang mabuhay nang marangal, mabibigyan na sila ng kakayahang itaguyod ang kinabukasan at makaambag sa pagpapaunlad ng ating bansa,” she added.
As the designated vice chairman of the committee, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV presided over deliberations of these bills on behalf of De Lima who was not allowed by the Philippine National Police to conduct public hearings inside her detention cell. The Magna Carta of the Poor, which De Lima authored, seeks to grant the poor ready access to government services and encourage private sector’s investments in pro-poor program.
The measure mandates the government to 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.
“If we provide the poor with livelihood opportunities and sustained income, we are helping them to become self-sufficient and be in full control of their future,” the lady from Bicol said.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Senior Citizens Act, which De Lima co-authored along with Senators Trillanes, Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III, aims to formulate policies that would ensure the protection of the well-being of senior citizens. Under the measure, a National Commission of Senior Citizens will be made available not only to ensure strict implementation of laws for the elderly but also to task the Department of Social Welfare and Development to create policies and oversight programs for them.
“Considering that aging comes with myriad challenges that are not limited to physical restrictions, we need to ensure that we provide an enabling environment for our elderly where their voice can be openly heard,” De Lima said. Even though she has no access to electronic gadget and communication device inside her detention, the former justice secretary is able to file meaningful legislations aimed at ensuring that the rights of the people are promoted and protected. Other social justice measures adopted by De Lima’s Committee now in the pipeline, undergoing interpellations and/or amendments at the plenary level are bills on the institutionalization of the 4Ps, regulating public solicitations, instituting Magna Carta for Child Development Workers and providing for a Rural Employment Assistance Program.