A new law cementing the rights of the poor in the Philippines has been praised by Caritas Manila, the social arm of the Catholic Church in the capital.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the Magna Carta of the Poor in April, but it was only officially published on Monday. The law is meant to improve the standard of living and quality of life of impoverished Filipinos. The legislation says the poor are entitled to food, work, education, housing and healthcare.

“More than a bill of rights of the poor, the Magna Carta of the Poor declares that the government must now take the side of the poor because the issue of poverty has now become a critical question of survival; that government intervention, given the present situation, is the only realistic route to take to uplift the poor while long-term measures, strategies and solutions to poverty are being put in place. And government “must invest heavily in anti-poverty programs for the economic empowerment of the poor,” the law’s introduction states.

The law requires all government agencies to provide full access to government services to the poor.

“That’s what good government is all about, taking care of the poor and marginalized,” said Father Anton Pascual, the executive director of Caritas Manila.

He said the law is needed to help address poverty and hunger in the country.

Pascual said they are hoping that government agencies have the time and resources to implement the Magna Carta.

“That is always the problem… efficiency and effect of government execution,” he told CBCPNews.

According to the principal author of the Magna Carta, the law can “be part of the answer to the prayers of millions of poor and disadvantaged Filipinos for a committed, sustainable and decisive framework from the government to eradicate poverty.”

Representative Raul V. Del Mar said in a democracy, social justice means “caring for the poor, a continuing and sincere concern for the underprivileged, a genuine and serious effort to improve their quality of life.”

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