President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the Magna Carta of the Poor or Republic Act 11291 aimed at uplifting the standard of living and quality of life of impoverished Filipinos.
A copy of the bill was signed by the President on April 12 but was released by Malacañang only on Monday. The law requires departments and agencies of the government to provide full access to government services to the poor.
On April 17, the President also signed Republic Act No. 11321 or the “Sagip Saka Act,” that aims to improve the lives of farmers and fishermen through enterprise development and would provide mechanisms for the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program.
The Magna Carta of the Poor ensures that the poor are granted ready access to government services and encourages the private sector to invest in poverty alleviation programs.
The agencies include the Health, Social Welfare and Development, Labor and Employment, Education and Agriculture departments, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The beneficiaries must be individuals whose income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority, 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.
Within six months upon the effectivity of the law, the National Anti-Poverty Commission will coordinate with the government departments and agencies, with the participation of the local government units and the basic sectors, promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this act.
Meanwhile, farmers and fishermen under the Sagip Saka Act can avail of assistance in skills development, and gain wider access to financing in the form of credit grants and crop insurance, and access to improved technologies for research and development.
The development program covers agricultural and fisheries production; acquisition of work animals, farm and fishery equipment and machinery; acquisition of seeds, fertilizer, poultry, livestock, feeds, and other similar items; procurement of agricultural and fisheries products for storage, trading, processing, and distribution; construction, acquisition, and repair of facilities in support of agriculture and fisheries; working capital for agriculture and fisheries graduates to enable them to engage in economic activities; agribusiness activities in support of soil and water conservation; working capital for long-gestating projects; and credit guarantees on uncollateralized loans to farmers and fisherfolk.
An oversight committee known as the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Council will also be formed under the new measure to ensure the proper implementation of the program.