House bill seeks to make life better for nation’s poor

February 01, 2019

THE House of Representatives has adopted Senate Bill 2121 as an amendment to the “Magna Carta of the Poor.”

The House had approved on third and final reading its own version — HB 5811 — as early as August 9, 2017.

Principally authored by Cebu City Rep. Raul Del Mar, HB 5811 seeks to uplift the standard of living and quality of life of the poor and provide them with sustained opportunities for growth development. It also aims to achieve an inclusive and sustainable path to end poverty in all its forms.

The House defines poor as families or individuals whose incomes fall below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and/or cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide for their minimum basic needs of food, health, education, housing, or other essential amenities of life.

As such, the measure provides that the government shall establish a system of progressive realization or implementation to provide the requirements, conditions, and opportunities for the full enjoyment of the rights of the poor which are essential requirements towards poverty alleviation.

These rights comprise the Right to Adequate Food; Right to Decent Work; Right to Free, Relevant, and Quality Education; Right to Adequate Housing; and Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Mental and Physical Health.

Government agencies are mandated to formulate the National Poverty Reduction Plan (NPRP), a comprehensive and convergent plan to set the thresholds to be achieved by the government for each of the basic rights of the poor. The NPRP shall consider the regional and local development plans of provinces, cities, and municipalities.

The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), with the technical assistance of the NEDA, shall be tasked to compile and harmonize these plans, while the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shall review the NPRP for inclusion in the budget of the implementing agencies.

Funding for the poverty alleviation programs and projects shall be sourced from the existing appropriations as authorized under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of the different departments and agencies implementing these programs.

These include, among others, the programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services National Community Driven Development Program (KALAHI-CIDSS NCDDP); Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)’s Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Project; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)’s Skills Training, Private Education Student Financial Assistance (PESFA) and the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP).