Magna Carta of Poor enacted into law
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - May 10, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Magna Carta of the Poor, the bill that aims to address hunger and ensure full access to basic services to help alleviate poverty has been enacted into law.

The law is one of the three major bills that recently lapsed into law and is considered landmark legislation.

 Cebu City north district Congressman Raul V. Del Mar, principal author of the Magna Carta  who filed then House Bill 55 in 2004 under the 13th Congress, said that the bill is the result of legislative work spanning 15 years.

Del Mar said in a statement that it had been filed and re-filed, went through several House committee hearings and plenary deliberations, until the current bill (HB 511) consolidated with the Senate version (SB 2121) was submitted to President Duterte under the current 17th Congress.

Del Mar hailed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision for the country to have the Magna Carta which can be part of the answer to the prayers of millions of poor and disadvantaged Filipinos for a committed, sustainable and decisive framework from the government to eradicate poverty.

In essence, Del Mar said, social justice in a democracy is caring for the poor, a continuing and sincere concern for the underprivileged, a genuine and serious effort to improve their quality of life.

"This is what the Magna Carta of the Poor is all about," Del Mar said.

The Magna Carta expressly provides that rights and benefits granted by existing laws for the poor will continue to exist and won’t be diminished.

The explanatory note of the bill stated that “while there may be existing laws touching on the needs of the poor, the jobless, the homeless and the landless as part of an overall national strategy to alleviate poverty, this proposed legislation puts in sharp focus by stating in unequivocal terms what is felt to be the basic irreducible rights of the poor as essential requirements towards poverty alleviation, rights without which it is pointless to talk about poverty alleviation.”

Those rights on reducing poverty, the explanatory note further stated, are the right to adequate food, right to creation of jobs, right to free relevant and quality education, right to  adequate housing, and right to free health care and medicine – “the minimum standards of decency."

More than a bill of rights of the poor, the Magna Carta of the Poor declares that government must now take the side of the poor because the issue of poverty has now become a critical question of survival; that government intervention, given the present situation, is the only realistic route to take to uplift the poor while long term measures, strategies and solutions to poverty are being put in place.

"Government must invest heavily in anti-poverty programs for the economic empowerment of the poor," del Mar further said. — MBG (FREEMAN)

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