Thursday, October 15, 2009

House approves Magna Carta of the Poor

MANILA, Philippines - To strengthen the government's anti-poverty programs, the House of Representatives passed another landmark bill in an attempt to finally break "trans-generational" poverty and substantially reduce the number of extremely poor Filipinos.

"Even as plenary is in the heat of its marathon debate to beat its self-imposed deadline in passing the P1.5-trillion national budget, we gave due attention and time for other relevant legislation," House Speaker Prospero Nograles said, citing the final reading approval of the proposed "Magna Carta of the Poor" contained in HB 6915.

The proposed Magna Carta of the Poor aims to boost jobs generation, promotion of good health for the citizenry, and breaking of the "trans-generational" poverty through education of the present generation.

"Poverty has been a growing problem since time immemorial. We have to do something concrete about it. It is a complex problem that needs draconian solutions," Nograles said.

The proposed Magna Carta seeks to help the poor to be more economically empowered by way of strengthening the social services programs of government, with the cooperation of the private sector, to protect the rights of the poor. These rights include: the Right to food by institutionalizing government food assistance and subsidy; the Right to Employment; Free Quality education; Shelter and Health services and medicine.

A recent report by a United Nations food agency said that even before the economic crisis pushed the ranks of the world’s hungry to a record one billion, declining aid and investment in agriculture had been steadily increasing the number of undernourished people for more than a decade now.

An international wire agency reported that unless these trends are reversed, ambitious goals set by the international community to slash the number of hungry people by 2015 will not be met as revealed by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

An Associated Press dispatch noted that the world’s most populous region, Asia and the Pacific, has the largest number of extremely poor people – 642 million – followed by Sub-Saharan Africa with 265 million.

"These are painful realities that nations must face together," the authors said. (Gil Bugaoisan)

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