House approves Magna Carta for the Poor

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the proposed Magna Carta for the Poor, the same measure that President Benigno Aquino III vetoed last year for being "unrealistic."

House committee on poverty alleviation chairperson Salvio Forturo expressed his confidence that Aquino will finally sign House Bill 4629 into law.

He said lawmakers have carefully addressed the Chief Executive's concerns in the new bill, which ensures access to basic rights: food, employment, quality education, shelter and health services.

Fortuno said that the House version has adopted most of the provisions contained in the Malacanang-draft of the bill.

Aquino previously junked a similar measure passed by the 15th Congress, saying the government faces "financial constraints in executing the provisions of the law that proposes solutions to the poverty problems in the country."

The President previously stated in his veto message that "in its present form, the proposed bill will unnecessarily hamper the ability of my administration, and even of succeeding administrations, to precisely determine how best to address the priority and critical areas of concern of the poor that require adequate funding."

"This time, we are confident the President will not reject the bill. His veto message on last Congress’s bill was taken into consideration and properly addressed," said Fortuno.

House Bill 4629 consolidates four Magna Carta bills authored by Representatives Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (Bulacan), Erlinda Santiago (1-Sagip Partylist); Julieta Cortuna (A Teacher Partylist); Amado Bagatsing (Manila); Gabriel Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu); Elmer Panotes (Camarines Norte); Aleta Suarez (Quezon); Sol Aragones (Laguna); and Helen Tan (Quezon).

Fortuno said the measure seeks to "uplift the standard of living and quality of life of the poor" by providing them with sustained opportunities for growth and development.

Fortuno said it also fulfils the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

He said the amended bill stipulates that government will implement the provisions in accordance with a system of "progressive realization" over time.

Funding requirements will also be taken from the existing anti-poverty appropriations of the different departments and agencies implementing pro-poor programs.

"The bill stresses that any funding deficiency in the implementation of pro-poor programs by the different departments and agencies will be included in the General Appropriations Act of the year as soon as the measure is enacted," said Fortuno.

He added that the proposed Magna Carta of the Poor provides for five fundamental rights of the poor – food, employment and livelihood; relevant and quality education; shelter and basic health services and medicines.

The measure also defines the poor as those families or individuals whose income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority. (Sunnex)

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