CEBU

Bzzzzz: Magna Carta of the Poor: Why Malacañang didn't play up its signing into law.

Cebu City Representative Raul V. del Mar (SunStar File)

THEY'RE talking about...

* THE ALCOVER-MABATID EXCHANGE ON FB. Cebu City outgoing Councilor Jun Alcover and incoming councilor Niña Mabatid are trading harsh and defamatory words against each other. Both belong to Partido Barug and ran for City Council seats in the north district: Mabatid landed #2 in the final count, while Alcover placed only #13, five spots away from the Magic Eight or the winning circle. Jun alleged that Niña junked him in Mabolo, of which she is the barangay captain.

Alcover called her "corrupt and immoral," while Mabatid alleged that he is a "killer" ("mopatay") and for that reason had her concern recorded in the police blotter.

Niña urged Jun to accept defeat "and move on" but he said he could not allow her to assume office. How Jun (billed "Walay Kulba" or No Fear) would do that, he didn't say.

* THAT NOTE TO DUTERTE. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo indicated that he didn't know what the note to the president in Duterte's Tokyo speech said. The note was read by Duterte and, as he did so, the camera zoomed in and picked up the words clearly. It said, "Please conclude the speech."

Duterte critics in Senate

Republic Act 11291 or Magna Carta of the Poor, a bill that seeks to make government services more accessible to the poor, was signed by President Duterte last April 12 but was announced by Malacañang only last May 27.

Not cited in news reports was that the Senate version of the bill was authored by jailed Senator Leila de Lima with Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino, opposition senators.

Palace communicators were in a bind. Apparently, the president was convinced the bill was important and a major piece of legislation that fitted into his anti-poverty program. But the sponsors in the Senate are also his fiercest critics.

Representative Raul V. del Mar of Cebu City north authored the mother bill (HB #55) in 2004, under the 13th Congress, and re-filed the same bill in the succeeding Congresses until this 17th Congress, which started in 2016.

Del Mar pushed the enactment of the bill into law, after several hearings and plenary deliberations, by suggesting to Palace advisers that the president could allow it to lapse into law, but better still, sign it into law before this Congress would end on June 30. Duterte did, ending 15 years or so of legislative work on the bill.

Not to be denied the honor of working on the bill in the Senate, De Lima and Aquino propaganda machines trumpeted it in social media, but also obscuring if not ignoring the role of Del Mar, principal and original author of the mother bill in the House.

Work on Noynoy's veto

On March 22, 2013, then president Noynoy Aquino vetoed the Magna Carta of the Poor (SB #3309 and HB #4484), citing "substantial infirmities" that will "wreak havoc on government's existing and planned programs for the poor." It involved principally the "funding mechanism" that may be at "cross-purposes" with, and even divert funds from, existing pro-poor programs.

Work on the bill since had since then addressed to that concern. The Magna Carta of the Poor, as signed by Duterte, serves as blueprint for the pro-program of the government, under which services cohere and complement one another.

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