Duterte signs Magna Carta of the Poor

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The poor refers to individuals and families whose income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority, and/or those who cannot afford their minimum basic needs.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a bill making government services more accessible to poor Filipinos so that their basic needs are met.

Malacañang released a copy of Republic Act 11291 or the Magna Carta of the Poor Monday. Duterte enacted it on April 12.

The poor refers to individuals and families whose income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and/or those who cannot afford their minimum basic needs.

Under the law, implementing government agencies concerned departments must establish a system to meet the following rights:

1. Adequate food

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Agriculture must take actions to mitigate and alleviate hunger, especially in times of calamities and natural disasters. It must also ensure the availability of food supplies, while engaging the poor in activities to promote food self-sufficiency.

2. Decent work

The Department of Labor and Employment along with other implementing agencies shall ensure the poor will have access to information on employment opportunities, as well as promoting livelihood for the poor. Government must also ensure private contractors in national and local public work projects to fill in 30% of their labor requirements with qualified workers from the poor.

3. Relevant and quality education

The agencies concerned are the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. They, along with other development partners, shall expand programs of providing free or socialized college education to the poor and shall make technical-vocational education and training more accessible.

4. Adequate housing

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and other implementing agencies shall prioritize implementation of the socialized housing program, construct housing for families in hazardous and danger zones, and simplifying the requirements for processing and approval of community-based socialized housing.

5. Highest attainable standard of health

The Department of Health and other concerned agencies shall provide comprehensive, universal, culture-sensitive and nondiscriminatory health services — including those for maternal and child health care, prevention of reproductive tract infections and sexually transmitted infections, immunization against major infectious diseases, and the prevention of epidemics. They shall also find ways to provide health-related education and reduce the financial burden of health care.

The DSWD, along with NEDA and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), will identify the target beneficiaries.

The funding for the poverty alleviation programs will be sourced from the existing poverty alleviation programs of the different departments and agencies.

The NAPC shall oversee the compliance of these departments to the measure.