Senate approves bill on Magna Carta of the Poor

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate approved on Tuesday, January 29, a bill seeking to create a Magna Carta of the Poor, which aims to address hunger and ensure full access to basic services to help alleviate poverty.

Senate Bill No. 2121, sponsored by Senator Leila de Lima, seeks to ensure that the poor will have access to adequate food, especially in times of calamities or natural disasters. It also mandates the government to provide programs for the poor to promote their food self-sufficiency.

In the bill, De Lima noted that the right to adequate food is among the essential requirements to alleviating poverty. (READ: More Filipino families considered themselves poor in 2018 – survey)

The measure also mandates government agencies to implement and maintain supplementary feeding programs in day-care centers and schools.

Meanwhile, the agriculture department and social welfare department are also mandated to ensure the availability, accessibility, and sustainability of food supplies that will adequately meet dietary needs for proper nutrition.

Aside from these, the bill also reaffirms the poor's right to obtain decent employment and affordable, safe housing. It also affirms the right to "relevant and quality education" and the "highest attainable standard of health."

It aims to do this by ensuring a system of free education from kindergarten to high school and by providing access to health facilities and services.

If the bill becomes law, all government agencies would be required to create a plan outlining their respective targets in ensuring the rights of the poor are upheld.

The measure also mandates that the private sector participate in government programs to alleviate poverty. (IN CHARTS: Inflation crisis not yet over for poorest Filipinos)

"The state shall ensure that the welfare of the people will be the true measure of progress and stability on accord with sustainability and fiscal realities," Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said in his sponsorship speech.

Trillanes delivered the sponsorship speech because Senate committee on social justice, welfare, and rural development chairperson De Lima is in detention for allegedly trumped-up drug charges.

A similar bill was approved by the House of Representatives in August 2017. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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