Senate panel submits pro-poor measures for plenary debate


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The Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development chaired by Senator Leila M. de Lima has reported out for plenary debate last Monday (Dec. 3) six legislative measures generally aimed at improving the plight of Filipino families, especially the poor.

On behalf of De Lima, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, vice chairman of the committee, submitted via sponsorship speeches these six measures for floor deliberations, to wit: Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2111 (Public Solicitation Act), SBN 2117 (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps Act), SBN 2118 (Magna Carta for Child Development Workers), SBN 2119 (Rural Employment Assistance Program Act), SBN 2121 (Magna Carta of the Poor) and SBN 1986 (National Rotary Day Act).

“I am hopeful that these important pro-poor measures will soon be passed into law, especially now that most Filipino families are hard-pressed with skyrocketing prices of basic commodities,” De Lima said from detention.

The top bills sponsored by the committee – the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act, the “Magna Carta of the Poor”, and the “Rural Employment Assistance Program Act” – are all geared towards helping the poor to be self-sufficient through sustained income and livelihood opportunities.

For one, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Act seeks to institutionalize 4Ps as one of the regular poverty reduction programs of the government for qualified poor families.

Compared to the usual government investments in infrastructure, Trillanes said in his sponsorship message that “4Ps is funnelling the resources directly to our people, the greatest assets of our nation, categorized as a human capital investment.”

The members of the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilyang Pantawid (SNPP) were present during the session at the Senate to express their full support for the 4Ps Act, which was barely four months since the group submitted to Senate committee more than 500-K signatures endorsing the 4Ps bill.

The other pro-poor measure sponsored by the Senate committee was the “Magna Carta of the Poor” which seeks to establish a system of progressive realization or implementation to provide the requirements, conditions and opportunities for the full enjoyment or realization of the rights of the poor.

For De Lima, the true measure of progress and stability of a country is still the welfare of the people, saying that “if the government can genuinely address the issues on poverty, the poor can eventually fully participate in the growth and development in the country.”

Meanwhile, the “Rural Employment Assistance Program Act” seeks to provide livelihood opportunities to poor families in rural areas usually affected by disaster or underdevelopment.

It proposed for the creation of a Rural Employment Assistance Program (REAP), which shall provide temporary employment to every qualified individual member of a poor family in rural areas who volunteers to do unskilled labor for a minimum 45 days but not more than 90 days in a calendar year.

Aside from these pro-poor measures, the committee also sponsored bills that will protect the people from unscrupulous individuals and truly improve the welfare of the youth, such as the “Magna Carta for Child Development Workers” and the “Public Solicitation Act”, respectively.

The Public Solicitation Act seeks to regulate public solicitations and impose stiff penalties for any misuse of funds collected by solicitors repealing the antiquated Act. No. 4075, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 156.

If passed into law, this measure will institutionalize the issuance of temporary solicitation permits to individuals or organizations needing aid in times of natural or human-induced calamities or disasters.

“To ultimately institutionalize and better regulate the practice of public solicitation in the Philippines, it is the Committee’s hope to enact a measure that puts in place stronger mechanisms that circumscribe the responsibilities of solicitors,” Trillanes said.

The Magna Carta for Child Development Workers, on its part, seeks to provide CDWs with security of tenure and social protection in times of unforeseen contingencies such as sickness, disability or retirement.

Finally, the Committee also sought to recognize the selfless service of the Rotary Club Philippines in the country by sponsoring the “National Rotary Day Act” which proposed to declare February 23 of every year a special working holiday to be known as “National Rotary Day.”

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