Most of the estimated 11 million Filipinos who consider themselves poor live in over-crowded communities in major Philippines cities. (Photo by Basilio Sepe)
The social action arm of Manila Archdiocese has welcomed the passage of a law that aims to uplift the lives of poor people and address hunger in the Philippines.The government announced last week that President Rodrigo Duterte had signed into law what has been called the "Magna Carta of the Poor" — named after the charter of rights signed by King John of England in 1215 — which gives those struggling to make a living easier access to government services. "That’s what good government is all about, taking care of the poor and marginalized," said Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila. Magna Carta for the Poor," he added. Under the new law, the government is required to prioritize programs for the poor that concern the provision of food, shelter, livelihood, education and health care. Father Pascual, however, expressed apprehension on how the law will be implemented, saying that time, resources and the efficiency of government agencies are "always a problem." The law mandates the government's social welfare department and other agencies to identify beneficiaries of government programs for the poor. "We hope that the agencies of government have the time and resources to implement it," said the priest. The new initiative aims to help poor Filipinos meet their basic needs. It guarantees the rights of the poor to adequate food, decent work, relevant and quality education, housing, and the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health.