REELECTED Congressman Raul del Mar (Cebu City, 1st District) hailed President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the Magna Carta of the Poor which aims to alleviate the plight of the poor.
In a statement, del Mar said the Magna Carta 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.”
Republic Act 11291, or the Magna Carta for the Poor is considered a landmark legislation which del Mar is a principal author.
Del Mar, who was reelected last May 13 with a lead of more than 135,000 votes, filed then House Bill No. 55 in 2004 under the 13th Congress. He said the Magna Carta is the result of legislative work spanning 15 years.
“It had been filed and re-filed, went through several House committee hearings and plenary deliberations, until the bill, with the Senate version (SB 2121), was submitted to President Duterte under the current 17th Congress,” part of the statement read.
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.
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 said, “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 said, 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 are being put in place, he said.
“And government must invest heavily in anti-poverty programs for the economic empowerment of the poor,” del Mar said. (PR)