Duterte signs law for poor

Rodrigo Duterte

Magna Carta of the Poor promotes rights and welfare of less-privileged Filipinos.

Also signed are two other laws promoting tourism, farming and fishing enterprises.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill that ensures the poor are granted ready access to government services and encourages the private sector to invest in poverty alleviation programs.

Duterte signed the Magna Carta of the Poor (Republic Act 11291) on April 12, a copy of which was released by Malacañang on Monday.

The law tasks concerned government agencies to guarantee that the rights of the poor to adequate food, decent work, free, relevant and quality education, adequate housing, and highest attainable standard of health will be prmotedt.

The agencies include the Department of Health (DoH), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

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.

It also tasks the DSWD, in coordination with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission to identify and target its beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries must be 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, housing or other essential amenities of life.

Senator Leila de Lima, a proponent of the new law, welcomed the development.

“The dream of the poor for a better future is within reach with the signing of this law. Finally, their pleas have been heard and the state will be their refuge,” she said in a statement.

Any donation, contribution, and grant which may be made to the programs implemented under the National Poverty Reduction Plan will be exempt from the donor’s tax. The implementers of the socialized housing resettlement program will also enjoy incentives.

For famers, fishers

President Duterte has signed a law promoting partnerships between farmers, fisherfolk and the private sector.

Duterte signed Republic Act 11321 (Sagip Saka Act) on April 17, a copy of which was released by Malacañang on Monday.

The new law institutionalized the Department of Agriculture’s Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program, which refers to the comprehensive set of objectives, targets and holistic approach in promoting the creation of enterprises involving agricultural and fishery products.

The program will make use of science-based technologies in the identification and prioritization of agricultural and fishery products that will be covered.

Partnerships or alliances between farmers and fisherfolk and the private sector may be formed to improve market access of producer groups, according to the law.

The criteria for the selection of private sector partners include commitment to enter into a marketing contract or a buy-back agreement with their producers’ group and must be willing to provide technology transfer.

Tourism boost

Another law recently signed by President Duterte extends the granting of incentives for tourism enterprises for 10 years.

Duterte signed Republic Act 11262 on April 10, a copy of which was released by Malacañang on Monday.

The law provides that the incentive schemes provided under the Tourism Act of 2009 (RA 9593) shall be effective until December 31, 2029, subject to review by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee.

The committee will be composed of chairpersons of the tourism committee of the Senate and House of Representatives, heads of ways and means committee of both chambers, House appropriations committee chairperson, Senate finance committee chairperson and three additional members each from the Senate and House.

RA 9593 empowers the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to grant incentives to tourism enterprises for a period of 10 years in order to spur investments in sustainable tourism developments.

The incentives include income tax holidays, gross income taxation of five percent, 100 percent exemption on all taxes and customs duties on the importation of capital equipment, exemption of transportation and spare parts from tariffs and duties as well as employment of foreign nationals.