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By Kab. Cheng Ordonez, Editor-in-Chief

THE Philippine Senate has approved on third and final reading the proposed “Magna Carta of the Poor,” perceived to institutionalize long-term strategies and solutions that will give the poor dignity and better way of life.
Senate bill no. 2121 seeks to provide the poor with full access to government services offered by its departments, agencies, and instrumentalities, maintain a system of free public education, and ensure equitable access to a system of good quality health care and protection, among others.

Philippine Senator Loren Legarda, principal author of the bill, said: “The Magna Carta of the Poor is a measure that promotes inclusive growth by ensuring that the poor are provided with basic services and support to allow them to be part of the country’s development.”

“We also want to strengthen convergence between the government and its basic sectors to fully make its services accessible to the poor,” said Legarda.
It will also protect the rights of the workers by ensuring compliance with core labor standards and prioritize the implementation of the socialized housing program.

“These basic services are already provided under various laws and funded through the General Appropriations Act. Our interventions in the national budget in the past years have made these services—such as free college education in state-run tertiary institutions, universal healthcare coverage, increased funding for social services, free irrigation for small farmers, and more livelihood opportunities—accessible to more Filpinos. However, there is a need to ensure that all poor Filipinos actually receive and benefit from these services,” said Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on

“The Magna Carta of the Poor will adopt an area-based, sectoral, and focused intervention to poverty alleviation. It will institutionalize long-term strategies and solutions that will give the poor dignity and a better way of life. Most importantly, the poor will be empowered to become productive members of society and key players in the country’s overall growth and development,” Legarda said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released on March 18, 2016, its report on the country’s official poverty statistics for the first semester of 2015 that provided the estimates of poverty incidence using income data from the first visit of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES). It says that poverty incidence among Filipinos in the first semester of 2015 was estimated at 26.3 percent.

On the other hand, subsistence incidence among Filipinos, or the proportion of Filipinos whose incomes fall below the food threshold, was estimated at 12.1 percent in the first semester of 2015. In the first half of 2012, the subsistence incidence among Filipinos is at 13.4 percent.  Subsistence incidence among Filipinos is often referred to as the proportion of Filipinos in extreme or subsistence poverty.