PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed Republic Act (RA) 11291, or the "Magna Carta of the Poor," in an effort to uplift the standard of living and quality of life of the poor and provide them with sustained opportunities for growth and development.
RA 11291 seeks the establishment of a system of progressive realization to ensure the poor's full enjoyment of their rights to adequate food, decent work, relevant and quality education, adequate housing, and highest attainable standard of health.
The law delegates the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), in consultation with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), to maintain and periodically review a single system of classification of intended beneficiaries of the government anti-poverty initiatives.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is also mandated to coordinate with Neda and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) in identifying the intended beneficiaries.
Under Magna Carta of the Poor, the DSWD, the Department of Agriculture, and other concerned agencies are tasked to undertake necessary actions to alleviate hunger, especially in times of calamities, and ensure availability of food supplies in the poor sector.
RA 11291 also directs the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to ensure that the poor will have access to information regarding job openings in private and public sectors.
The Dole is likewise instructed to promote livelihood among the poor by providing technical and administrative support for their establishment of livelihood enterprise.
The Education department, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority are also ordered to maintain a system of free public education in the kindergarten, elementary, and high school levels; make higher education accessible to the poor; and ensure their access to quality technical-vocational education and training.
The law directs the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council to prioritize the implementation of the socialized housing program, immediate construction of housing families for families living in danger zones, and the creation of enabling enviromnment to the poor, in a bid to ensure their right to have a decent, affordable, and safe housing.
RA 11291 also tasks the Department of Health to ensure the poor's equitable access to a system of good quality health care and protection, as well to reduce their financial burden through a socialized health insurance program.
"All other rights of the poor provided under existing laws shall remain in full force and effect," the law read.
"Nothing herein shall be construed in a manner that will diminish the enjoyment of such rights by the poor who shall have th right to avail of greater rights offered by existing laws, including those granted under this Act," it added.
Magna Carta of the Poor requires the government's implementation of a sustainable mechanism that will build an "effective" social protection system to ensure the poor's access to protection from any risk or contingency.
The social protection system, which will be pursued during bilateral and multilateral deals with international financial institutions, will include "social insurance, safety nets, social services, and labor market interventions, which shall be made affordable and accessible."
The NAPC is directed to ensure the participation of basic sectors and the LGUs in the formulation and implementation of the comprehensive and convergent National Poverty Reduction Plan (NPRP) , which will set the thresholds to be achieved by the government for each of the recognized rights of the poor.
The funding for the anti-poverty projects implemented under Magna Carta of the Poor will be taken from the existing appropriations of the different departments and agencies implementing the said programs.
The law also encourages the participation of the private setor as an "active partner" in the financing and implementation of poverty alleviation programs and projects.
Any donation, contribution, and grant which may be made to the programs implemented under NPRP will be exempt from the donor's tax, RA 11291 provides.
A copy of the law, which was signed by Duterte on April 12, was made public on Monday, May 27, 2019. (SunStar Philippines)