The House committee on poverty alleviation has passed a substitute bill that seeks to uplift the lives of the poor by strengthening the government’s anti-poverty programs and implementation of other social development strategies in partnership with government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations and other partners.
The committee chaired by Rep. Emmi de Jesus (Party-list, Gabriela) approved the unnumbered bill, also known as the “Magna Carta of the Poor,” which substituted House Bills 31, 232, 478, 1122 and 1895 authored by Reps. Raul del Mar (1st District, Cebu), Rodante Marcoleta (Party-list, SAGIP), Jose Antonio Sy Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan ), Gary Alejano (Party-list, MAGDALO), and Salvio Fortuno (5th District, Camarines Sur), respectively.
The bill provides for the poor’s right to adequate food. It mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Agriculture and other implementing agencies concerned to undertake necessary actions to mitigate and alleviate hunger especially in times of natural or human-induced disasters, and fully implement and maintain supplementary feeding programs in day care centers and schools among others.
As for the right to decent work, the Department of Labor and Employment will ensure that the poor have access to employment openings. Thirty percent of the skilled labor requirements of private contractors and subcontractors doing national and local public works projects funded by the national or local government must be filled by qualified workers who come from the poor sector.
On the right to relevant and quality education, the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, in coordination with development partners concerned, shall: maintain a system of free public education in the kindergarten, elementary and high school levels; make higher education open to all poor individuals and families; and ensure access to quality technical/vocational education and training through scholarships, subsidies and financial assistance.
The bill also states that on the right to adequate housing of the poor, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and other implementing agencies concerned shall prioritize the implementation of the socialized housing program with identified appropriate subsidies and create an enabling environment that will assist the poor gain access to security of tenure with the least financial burden among others.
Funding for the poverty programs and projects under the Act shall be sourced from the existing appropriations as authorized under the GAA of the different departments and agencies.
“The main objective of this important piece of legislation is to uplift the standard of living and quality of life of the poor and address the need to provide the poor with sustained opportunities for growth and development,” Fortuno said.
“Poverty alleviation should be the government’s utmost concern by requiring employment opportunities to be created and expanded to provide decent and productive means to the poor and ensuring basic rights to food, shelter and education that often takes the back seat,” Alvarado said.