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Duterte signs ‘Magna Carta for the Poor’

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, News, TOP STORIES

May. 30, 19 | 8:46 am

DUBAI: Staying true to his campaign promise three years ago on effecting changes for the common good of the Filipino people, President Duterte, who has further consolidated his grip on power with the recently-concluded midterm polls and apparently determined on staying the course of economic growth, has signed a law that would require government officials to shape up or ship out.

Republic Act 11291, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for the Poor” and signed on April 12 this year, covers a detailed plan for national poverty alleviation to further improve the lives of Filipinos, particularly those living below the poverty threshold set by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

The newly-signed law puts concerned government agencies on an important task – to ensure that Filipinos living on and below the poverty line are given appropriate assistance on available government services that they require and that their rights are protected.

“It shall adopt an area-based, sectoral and focused intervention to poverty alleviation where every poor Filipino must be empowered to meet the minimum basic needs through the partnership of the government and the basic sectors,” the law, introduced by detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima and authored by Rep Raul del Mar in the House of Representatives, states.

Who are the poor?

According to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), families in “extreme poverty” are those with incomes less than what is required to meet basic food needs. The agency set the poverty threshold at PhP 10,481, on average, to meet both basic food and non-food needs of a family of five in a month.

Poverty incidence

Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), recently said that poverty incidence has “decreased substantially over the course of the past three years by 6.6%”

In the first half of 2018, she added, citing PSA, poverty incidence among Filipinos decreased to 21% from the adjusted 27.6 % during the first half of 2015.

She attributed this to “sustained economic growth and critical and broad-based reforms and investments that have translated to employment generation and social protection.”

She stressed that while inflation rose to 8.1% in the period of 2015-2018 from 7.8 % in 2012-2015, the growth of average income accelerated considerably to 21.2% from 15.3%, respectively.

NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro

“Importantly,” she further stressed, “growth in per capita income of the bottom 30% of households picked up significantly to 29.2% in the 2015-2018 period from only 20.6% in the 2012-2015 period.”

What this indicates, Navarro said, is “an increase in real incomes of the poor, which has helped in reducing poverty among Filipino families and individuals.”

She said the poor these days are actually enjoying an increase in wage and salary incomes brought about by consistent growth in the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), which has been at a pace of 6.5% during a six-year period from 2012 to 2018.

Navarro said the government’s Build, Build, Build flagship program has also resulted in the expansion of the manufacturing and construction industries, which in turn are creating more income-earning opportunities accessible to the poor.

Navarro also cited various social programs and policies as contributing factors to poverty alleviation.

One of these, she said, is the continued implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer Program, which now includes an additional Php600-rice subsidy cash grant.

Moreover, the coverage of the Social Pension program widened to over 3.1 million in 2018 from only 930,000 indigent senior beneficiaries in 2015.

“Also, the roll-out of Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCT) of Php2,400 per household likely boosted domestic cash receipts of the poor,” she said. The UCT Program was released in early 2018 to cushion vulnerable groups from the transitory effects of the tax reform law.

“As a result of these social programs and policies, subsistence incidence also declined by 4.5% to 8.5% among individuals, and declined by 3.7% to 6.2% among families in the first semester of 2018,” Navarro said.

Subsistence incidence refers to Filipinos living in extreme poverty and could not afford basic food requirements.

The figures were based on the 2018 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), according to Navarro.

Selected Official Poverty Statistics for the First Semesters of 2018 and 2015. Source: PSA

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It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

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