MANILA, Philippines – A Magna Carta for the poor remains a viable state instrument for the emancipation of poor families, but its formulation cannot be left alone to “congressional caprice.”
This was stressed by economist and former presidential adviser Joey Salceda, saying “the poor are so poor that the Magna Carta for their emancipation is urgent.”
“If I were allowed to make an input, I would have phrased it this way: Like IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) to LGUs (local government units), the poor shall be entitled to at least three percent of the gross domestic product, which would automatically be appropriated annually in the state’s national expenditures,” he said.
The poor’s share, he added, should be an integral part of the multi-year development instruments such as the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan and the Medium Term Public Investment Program.
He, however, said the poor and the expenditure program must be defined by the National Anti- Poverty Commission, with the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development as its ex-officio chair.
President Aquino vetoed the proposed law recently, saying it was a “mission impossible” because the government has no means to produce the P3.3 trillion budget it requires to uplift the poor.
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The Philippine government has only a P2-trillion annual national budget this year.
The President, however, has ordered the Cabinet social welfare cluster group to draw up a “substitute measure that will be given to the next Congress, which will act upon it with urgency.”
Albay is among the country’s provinces which have greatly benefitted from the government’s anti-poverty program, among them the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, closely hitting the target of reducing poverty under the Millennium Development Goal.