What is the Magna Carta of the Poor?

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has assured that the new law providing for the Magna Carta of the Poor requires the relevant government agencies to fund their respective anti-poverty programs to their targeted beneficiaries.

De Lima maintained that Republic Act 11291 or the "Magna Carta of the Poor" which she principally authored provides a realistic approach to the worsening poverty incidence in the country amid doubts by a labor group that it can improve the plight of the poor.

"The creation of the Magna Carta of the Poor is an express message to the poor and underprivileged that they are not overlooked, forgotten and consigned to oblivion," she said.

"A system of 'Progressive Realization' shall be implemented under this law which allows the government to work within means available and hand-in-hand with existing agencies to improve the standard of life of the poor, providing the most efficient relief within the limits and bounds of a developing nation," she explained.

Recently, militant labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) reportedly aired its doubts about RA 11291, claiming that the new law would hardly make a dent on the ballooning number of families falling below poverty levels.

BMP Chairman Leody De Guzman claimed that the law is "a mere codification of what is already supposedly being implemented or should be by agencies" and "a mere reiteration of the administration's innate duty to advance the interests of the poor."

While there may be existing pro-poor programs to date, the lady Senator from Bicol pointed out that they were not properly implemented either because the budget was spent inefficiently or the programs really failed to address the needs of the poor.

"This new law is made to adapt to budgetary constraints and all other government priority programs," she said.

"We can also bank on the effectivity of pro-poor programs because it allows consultations involving non-governmental organizations and private sector to ensure that the needs of the beneficiaries are really addressed," she added.

Last April 12, President Duterte has signed RA 11291 which guarantees the rights of the poor to adequate food, decent work, relevant and quality education, housing, and the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health.
Under the new law, the government is mandated to establish a system of "progressive realization" or implementation to provide the requirements, conditions, and opportunities for the full enjoyment of the fundamental rights of the poor.

De Lima, the principal sponsor and author of the "Magna Carta of the Poor" bill in the Senate, noted that the new law has also a provision that specifically targets beneficiaries, guaranteeing that aid will be granted to those who truly deserve it.

RA 11291 mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development, in coordination with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission to identify and target its beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries include individuals whose income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the NEDA, and those who cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide their minimum basic needs of food, health, education, and housing.

SOURCE: Senate (2019). De Lima: 'Magna Carta of the Poor' Law to benefit poorest families from gov't programs. Senate Press Release. June 2, 2019. https://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2019/0602_delima1.asp