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Philippine Congress passes bill to protect rights of poor

Bill aims to guarantee right to food, work, education and housing

Philippine Congress passes bill to protect rights of poor

Children in Manila's urban poor communities search for recyclable trash to help meet the family's daily needs. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

 

Joe Torres, Manila
Philippines

August 11, 2017

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The Philippine Congress has passed a bill that aims to protect the rights of the poor, but Catholic Church leaders said they would rest easier when it is wins presidential approval.

The House of Representatives has approved what has become known as the "Magna Carta for the Poor," which aims to give the poor equal access to basic rights and government services.

An earlier version of the proposed measure was struck down in 2013 by former president Benigno Aquino due to lack of funds.

The new bill that was passed on Aug. 9 guarantees the right to adequate food, decent work, free relevant and quality education, adequate housing, and right to highest attainable standard of mental and physical health.

Money for the implementation of the proposed law will come from the budgets of different government agencies and ministries.

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the social action secretariat of the Catholic bishops' conference, welcomed the legislation as "a good development."

"We commend Congress for approving the Magna Carta for the Poor," said the priest, adding that it is "long overdue" and "should be implemented to really make a dent in alleviating dismal poverty in the country."

He said the proposed measure, if signed by President Rodrigo Duterte into law, will provide "some needed policy support for [church] programs and advocacy for the poor."

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, head of the Commission on the Laity of the bishops' conference, welcomed the approval of the bill and expressed hope that it will passed into law, saying that "it will give attention to the plight of the poor."

As a signatory of the U.N. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Philippines is committed to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights to individuals, including labor rights and the right to health, the right to education, and the right to an adequate standard of living.
 

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